The USDA and the Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) are providing meals at Cardozo Middle School and Riverbank High School at no cost to all area youngsters, between the ages of one and 18. The lunches are offered Monday through Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Kicking off on Monday, June 3, the lunches are designed to ‘fill the gap’ for children when school is not in session, when many are provided with free or reduced price meals. The summer food program will end on Friday, July 19. All participants must consume the meals onsite inside the cafeteria at each campus. There will be no meal service on Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5.
The Summer Food Program has been administered for over 15 years in the Riverbank community. According to Carol Cantwell, Food Service Manager for RUSD who has been in charge of the program for many years, the program started out with the City of Riverbank’s Recreation Department. Over the years the city and RUSD began a partnership within the program. In the beginning the lunch meals were prepared by the RUSD food service staff at the Cardozo Central Kitchen and then transported and served at two of the parks in Riverbank by the Recreation staff.
In the summer of 2011 the RUSD decided to take on more responsibility of the program but the city staff is still involved. They began serving breakfast and lunch at the Riverbank High School cafeteria and Cardozo Middle School cafeteria during the summer.
“The program is USDA approved and meals are reimbursable through the federal program, which covers the costs of food and staff to prepare and serve the meals,” stated Cantwell.
That makes it possible for everyone, regardless of whether they qualify for free and reduced price meals at school, to take part in the summer nutrition program.
Cantwell also added that both campuses also provide the meals to children enrolled in the RUSD Summer Action Programs.
“Between both campuses we will be serving approximately 250 breakfasts and 350 lunches daily beginning June 3 through July 19,” said Cantwell.