District also working on giving unused food items to NEEDS Center

The Taft City School District is starting a snack program at four of its schools, a "second-chance breakfast" pilot program at one school and working with a local food bank to share its unused food from its cafeterias and snack programs.

Food service Director Randy Rico updated the TCSD Board of Trustees on the District's food service programs last week with the new projects.

The TCSD is starting its second year offering free breakfasts and lunches to all students, but Roosevelt students who miss breakfast or change their minds can take advantage of a breakfast program instead at morning recess, Rico said.

At four schools - Jefferson, Conley, Taft Primary and Roosevelt - students will be able to get a healthy afternoon snack.
They'll be served a half-cup of either fruits or vegetable at least three days a week. It's funded by a grant, Rico said, and the District has to use all the money it gets buying the snacks or lose it.

Just how the program will be implemented hadn't been fully decided.

Teachers may send a runner to pick up a basket of the snacks, or they will be served in the hallway or on the playground.

The TCSD isn't presently able to work with the Kern County Department of Public Health's "Waste Hunger, Not Food" program because the van with the cold and hot storage doesn't travel out here, but it is working with the NEEDS Center to distribute unused food to the hungry in Taft.
Rico said the food will be collected and taken back to the central cafeteria on the Lincoln Junior High campus and picked up by NEEDS.

"It would be good if we could do a hunger program," Trustee Les Clark Jr. said.

In the meantime, the free meal program for all students is proving very popular, at least at lunch, Rico said the participation rate that the District's schools are running at 89 percent or higher, although fewer students eating breakfast.

The TCSD qualifies for the free food for all students program because at least 85 percent of the students enrolled qualify for free or reduced meals.