More than 50,000.
That's how many times Jurupa children enjoyed healthy, nutritious meals this summer, at no charge, thanks to the JUSD Summertime Meals Program.
JUSD operates the program at eight sites in Jurupa Valley, including seven elementary schools and the Glen Avon Library – and parents, kids and educators love it. According to parents:
Thank you for all that you do!
We love the special guests, the shows, the staff and the lunch lady."
“Thankful for the help during summer and the welcoming feeling from all the staff."
“We love the library.
Thank you for making it an enjoyable experience for the whole family."
In all, the district provided 1,000 breakfasts and 1,500 lunches per day five days a week during the summer – free to anyone age 18 or younger, said Mike Bynum, Director of Food Services for JUSD. Students enjoyed such fare as roasted chicken, chicken fajitas, and build-your-own salads.
The program helps prevent Jurupa children from skimping on nutrition over the summer – ensuring consistent energy for growth, play and learning without limits.
“Our summer program provides an opportunity for children to get out of the house, attend Think Together, check out a book and eat a healthy breakfast and lunch," Mr. Bynum said. “Consistency is important to kids." Think Together provides after-school and summer learning for about 1,700 Jurupa students.
JUSD served the summer meals at Granite Hill, Ina Arbuckle, Indian Hills, Peralta, Rustic Lane, Sky Country and Sunnyslope elementary schools, in addition to the Glen Avon Library. The program offered breakfast and lunch through June at the school sites and lunch only through July 11 at the library.
“Kids get to socialize with other kids and I get to socialize with their parents," said Marie Barela, JUSD Cafeteria Manager at Glen Avon Elementary. “Parents often have questions about the library or about the food services programs in Jurupa. I know many of the kids because I work in the cafeteria at Glen Avon. Families recognize and trust me."
Ms. Barela added that home-schooled children and foster teens often visit during the summer to eat lunch and use the library.
JUSD started the summer meal program six years ago at sites providing Think Together summer enrichment. With more students stopping by to eat and learn, the meal service expanded this year from four days a week to five, Mr. Bynum said.
“My older sister has brought us to the library since we were younger," said a teen named Hayle. “There are eight in our family and we come all of the time … There are so many members in my family so we rarely get a chance to sit down and eat together. This program gets us together and we all eat at the same time. It is nice."
Tracie Randolph, branch manager of the Glen Avon Regional Library, said the program is a great way to dish up food and learning together: “This year we had 260 students signed up for our reading program. Kids get lunch and read books to stop the 'learning slide' that takes place during the summer months."