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The School District in Santa Ana is providing free meals for its students. http://digitalpromise.org/
The Santa Ana Unified School District is providing free meals for its students. Photo: http://digitalpromise.org/

Santa Ana Unified School District workers in California are providing free meals to local children in need

How one school district in California has kept families fed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Food insecurity has been one of the many crucial dilemmas to arise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since a majority of schools have been closed all across America, children are left wondering where their next meal will come from.

Food insecurity affected around 37 million Americans.

Since the pandemic began, 47% of Latino households with children have reported food insecurity, and recent data show the percentage continues to rise.

Santa Ana School District in Santa Ana, California has been providing students with an abundance of meals before the pandemic began.

But with thousands of residents losing their jobs, the program sought out to create more meals, so low-income families can worry less about feeding their children.

With the constant thought of children going to bed hungry, SAUSD Nutrition Services has offered breakfast and lunch to local families who are in need.

The School District of Santa Ana has been providing free food for children Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meal service announced in September that all students ages 1-18 are able to attend food distributions.

Starting March 5, the district will be expanded to include extra breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and “a super snack,” which covers dinners, for Saturday and Sunday.

“We have families who are struggling right now,” said Josh Goddard, the nutrition services director for Santa Ana Unified said to the Orange County Register. “We think that by providing meals for the weekends, it will provide additional support.”

The Santa Ana Unified School District is mindful when providing meals to local families. A large portion of those that use the service are Latino residents and in that light, the program provides dishes that Latino families love.

Goddard said that meal kits include Chicken or pork tamales, burritos, pizza, and fruit cups.

Meals also include different arrays of wholesome fruits and vegetables that are nutritious for different stages of growth and development.

Since the distribution of free meals, parents are provided with financial relief and can focus on helping their children with online learning instead of anxiously waiting by the phone in hopes of getting their jobs back.

“Kids have told us it’s made them feel that they’re back at school,” Goddard said.

Today, the district serves 7,000 to 8,000 children with 28,000 to 32,000 meals a day.

The Santa Ana Unified School District also hasn’t taken any days off. For instance, they worked for Thanksgiving by providing canned goods to local families.

All of their meals are also made in-house.

Just because school is closed does not mean that children should go hungry.

The meals are offered at 60 participating locations, Monday through Friday, throughout the city of Santa Ana.

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