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Colonial Benefits from Federally Subsidized Programs

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by Paula Angelucci
Supervisor, Nutrition Services

As the Supervisor of the Nutrition Services Division for the Colonial School District, I am extremely excited to announce that all students in the district will now receive free breakfast, lunch, and snacks thanks to a program subsidized by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) this school year! In the past, all schools except Gunning Bedford Middle School and William Penn High School met the federal requirements, but now, based on new calculations of homeless and needy students, all Colonial schools qualify for the free healthy meals prepared by our dedicated staff of nutrition services workers.

Last school year, 8,000 free lunches and 6,000 breakfasts were served; that number is expected to increase by 10% this school year, that’s an estimated 600-800 additional meals per day.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 makes the universal meal service possible and eliminates the need for families to enroll for free or reduced meals.

Studies have shown how essential it is to fuel the mind with healthy, nutritious food. Simply put, hungry kids do not learn. If a student comes to school who did not eat the night before that child will be thinking more about when their next meal is, not focusing on their academics. At Colonial, our students start their day with a grab and go breakfast and have access to free healthy snacks like fruit or yogurt. Another federally subsidized program also allows us to serve free supper to student-athletes and others who stay after school for various clubs and activities.

Thanks to the Food Bank of Delaware, Colonial will continue its backpack program. This program allows the district to discreetly stuff the backpacks of 1,500 children identified as nutritionally fragile with enough food for the weekend or scheduled days off from school.

Students can still purchase additional meals and a la carte items like cookies, juices, and baked chips. School gardens, another program supported through federal grants, not only teach children the science behind growing food, but gives them a new appreciation for the produce they harvest. Penn Farm, run by our students at the high school and supported by visiting students from our elementary and middle schools, also supplies our cafeterias with fresh produce. Our students are trying foods they’ve never had before like kale chips, and are discovering veggies really are good! In addition, our federally subsidized Summer Feeding Program is still in place. It allows us to offer free meals to children in the district and meals at a reduced cost to adults when school is out of session. The combination of all of these services ensures that Colonial’s 10,000 students are provided with healthy meals all-year long.

Our Nutrition Services Division is proud of the holistic approach taken by this district to care for the nutritional needs of each and every student, and we thank the USDA for its financial support.

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