SAUSD Provides Free School Meals

SAUSD nutrition is now offering meals for the weekend.


Melanie Sanchez

Milk jug and bags of food for four kids from the SAUSD free meals program sits on staff writer, Melanie Sanchez’s, dinner table. Photo taken March 12th.

Melanie Sanchez, Staff Writer

Coco Chanel once said the best things in life are free. So why aren’t students picking up their free school lunch?

The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) has been distributing free lunch and breakfast since the start of the pandemic to all students, ages 1 to 18. Over time, more than 30 schools now participate and distribute food Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Since then, over 5,000,000 free meals have been distributed. But many families are not using the program.

“When my mom and I go to pick up food we’re usually the only ones there. They even give us extra food because no one else will come,” said Godinez Fundamental High School senior, Andrea Barroso.

Many students do pick up free lunch from their school, but often, many extra meals are left over for no one to receive. For some schools, the results are underwhelming at times.

The author’s two-year-old brother enjoys apple juice provided by the SAUSD free lunch program. (Melanie Sanchez)

SAUSD has tried to make the free lunch program as accessible as possible now, from extending pick up times to having more accessible sites across SAUSD. 

District officials are even providing a school bus delivery service to an apartment complex on Lyon Street.

The lunches provided by Nutrition Services come with fruit and vegetables for a balanced meal. Warm courses include pizza or chicken tenders. 

Now the district is offering free meals to SAUSD for weekends. 

This service can even be accessed without leaving your car or you can walk in to pick up your food with no reservation needed but many people don’t know about the program or are not taking advantage of it. 

“In all honesty, I’m just lazy. I’m not able to make the time to go to school and pick up lunch and neither do my parents. It’s just too much of a hassle,” said GFHS senior, Erik Estrada. 

For some students, it’s just not convenient. Others would rather not leave the house during a pandemic. 

GFHS senior, Montserrat Rodriguez is glad the program is offered in her school district.

“My mom usually picks up the food when she comes home from work. It’s really convenient because I have a lot of siblings,” said Rodriguez. She added, “Some of my siblings are too young to be in school but they still give us a meal.”

Although students are staying home to work hard through their computers, lunch workers get up early daily to whip up food for students.

90 % of SAUSD students qualify for a free or reduced-priced meal, but the school lunch program is open to all students in SAUSD, even if children are too young to be enrolled in school yet. All you need is a child’s student ID if they are enrolled in a SAUSD school. 

Extra meals and snacks are often given out for the weekends and rare days that food sites are closed due to holidays. 

The flyer for the free meal program with information regarding pick up location and times.

All the schools participating and pick up times are listed above. If you wish to find a Spanish or Vietnamese version of the flyer you can find one on SAUSD’s website.

These school meals are a quick and efficient way for students to get a healthy meal as distance learning continues for the rest of this school year.

For more updates go to @santaanausd on Instagram.