Houston Secondary School (HSS) and Twain Sullivan Elementary have implemented a new joint hot lunch program for students. Students from both schools have the lunch provided at HSS, due to the fact that the two schools are considered a campus school, meaning they share staff and are located right next to one another.
As part of the program, all students are being offered a free breakfast, and students from TSE are also offered a free hot lunch. The high school students at HSS are required to purchase their hot lunch for a price of three dollars. Lunch cards are also being sold at the HSS main office that cost $30, good for 10 lunches.
Houston Today spoke to Jaksun Grice, the principal of both schools, about the reasoning for the new program. Grice said that the main priority is the well being of the students. “Essentially, at the most fundamental level it’s about helping to ensure that every student at our schools has access to healthy nutritious food to help them learn better and to help their quality of life.”
Grice went on to say that another reason behind the program is the fact that there are equity gaps within the community of both schools, and this is a simple way to eliminate that gap in terms of food security.
As for the total cost of the program, Grice says that they are still in the process of figuring it out. “It’s still new so we’re still getting a sense of the cost, some of that will be determined by the amount of donations that come in,” he said. “What I can say is that School District 54 (SD54) is heavily subsidizing the program.”
As part of the subsidization, SD54 is paying for the wages of two cooks who prepare all the food for the students. The cooks work on the menu on a monthly bases, based on seasonal availability of different food items.
Along with the funding from the school district, there have also been other contributions to help get the program off of its feet as well. According to Grice, there have been numerous donations of beef and crops from people within the community who have farms, cash donations from parents and community members and donations of fruits and vegetables from Buy-Low Foods.
Buy-Low is also selling $100 gift cards, available at the offices of both schools, with 10 per cent of the sales going towards the hot lunch program.
“We’re very happy with how the program is going right now, so far it’s been a success,” said Grice.
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