YUHSD Continues To Rely On Drive-Thru Meal Services To Feed Students
COVID-19 has changed the way Arizona school meal programs operate and the Yuma Union High School District is no exception.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the district moved from on-site school lunch and breakfast programs to safer, drive-thru and pick-up alternatives.
The school nutrition staff preps meals for 150 students who drive to campus and pick up their bagged food from blue tents out front of Cibola High School.
"The student's attendance has been different, and plus, of course, we are making the meals outside in the heat," said Rojo who works for the Student Nutrition Department at YUHSD.
Rojo has worked with the district's department for 10 years and said things have changed since COVID-19 forced the high school to close its doors in March.
At least 40 percent of students in the district's six high schools qualify for free breakfast and lunch, but participation in the mean programs is down since schools went online.
The high school serves around 150 meals a day, a number considerable lower than last spring according to YUHSD Director of Student Nutrition, Grace Pruit.
"Cibola had very high meal counts. They were serving between five and seven hundred, which is very good for not having students on campus," said Pruit.
In response to the pandemic, the USDA has relaxed some of the federal regulations for school meal programs. One change allows parents or guardians to pick up meals on behalf of their children and students can get breakfast and lunch at the same time.
This week the district announced another change.
Many students rely on the bus system to get to class and Pruit mentioned a lack of reliable transportation may be why some students are not picking up their meals.
"Being online and distance learning, we do anticipate a drop in our participation because there may not be all avenues of transportation available to those students," said Pruit.
The district is not providing meal services along four main bus routes, hoping to reach those students who can't visit campus to pick up meals.
The district says it will continue to work with public health officials and will evaluate its meal service frequently in the weeks to come.