Breakfasts up 20 percent since school starting serving free meals to all students.

A significant number of Taft City School District are taking advantage of the new free lunch and breakfast program for all students regardless of their family income.
Interim Cafeteria Director Roy Rico told the Taft City School District Board of Trustees last week that the number of breakfasts served in September were up 20 percent over last year and lunches were up 13 percent for the same time period.

That may be increasing as the year goes on.

"We are seeing a trend towards increase in our participation," Rico said.

The TCSD joined a new federal lunch program that now provides free school meals to all students in the District.
The District is taking advantage of the community exemption program in the federally-funded free and reduced meals because there are enough students that meet free and reduced criteria in the community for the entire district to qualify for free meals.
Taft Union High School is planning to apply for the same program.

Rico said the cafeteria staff is trying other ideas, as well, including a "veggie bar" in the Lincoln cafeteria, adding croutons at student's requests.

"We are receptive to what the students want to eat," he said.

The cafeteria is also considering seeking funding for a salad bar and looking at grants to replace older serving material at other school sites in the District.

In addition, he said, he has talked to the Bakersfield City School District about its participation in the Kern County "Waste Hunger Not Food" program that uses a specially built vehicle with hot and cold storage boxes to provide excess cafeteria food with programs for people in the community.