Parents and caregivers in School District No. 74 don’t have to worry about packing school lunches for their children this year. Stock image.

School District offers free lunch program for all students

Program is in effect for the 2019/2020 school year, and might be extended

Who says that there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

At its June 4, 2019 meeting, the Board of Trustees of School District No. 74 (SD74) approved a budget that included a universal lunch program for all students at every school in the district. The program is in effect for the 2019/2020 school year, and Board Co-Chair Valerie Adrian hopes that it will have a positive impact on outcomes for students.

“I’ve watched kids running to the school bus in the morning with toast in their hand,” she says, noting that some schools in the district already had breakfast programs in place. “In our area [Lillooet] one Band provided funding for schools in the area to offer some meal in the morning.”

She says that at the June Board meeting there was concern that some students in the district were not getting healthy lunches, and others had no lunch at all.

“It’s different across the district, but all schools face the same thing.”

Each school in SD74 has hired someone to plan and prepare the lunches, using the Canada Food Guide and the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools as references to help ensure that meals are healthy.

At Desert Sands Community School in Ashcroft, meals served so far this year include perogies with cheese; salad with garlic bread; spaghetti and meat sauce; stir fries; and hearty vegetable soup. All lunches include fruit or vegetables as part of the meal.

The Kindergarten and Grade 1 students are served the meals in their classrooms. The other students at Desert Sands are served in the cafeteria in two shifts.

Adrian says that she heard from a parent who said that the program was a wonderful idea, and that they were glad the school district had started it.

“I’m hoping that it does have an impact on student outcomes,” says Adrian. “At least people won’t be hungry. I know that when students are fed they can concentrate better.

“I’m just glad that we’re able to do this this year, and really hope we can continue with it next year. We’ll look at it for next year’s budget when we sit down [in spring 2020] to discuss finance.

“If any parents have feedback, we’re more than willing to listen to it.”

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