Playing the “long game of child nutrition” in North Sacramento, California

In North Sacramento, California, the Natomas Unified School District has served more than a million meals since the pandemic started–in great part due to USDA-issued COVID-19 waivers that allowed the district the flexibility to serve more meals to more kids. That’s an average of 2,000 students receiving meals every single day, including weekends–a 127% increase from pre-pandemic times. And throughout summer 2021, these numbers will grow, with the district serving three meals, six days a week, to local families at pick-up centers across the area.

Thanks to funding from No Kid Hungry California, NUSD was able to purchase a food truck that delivers farm-fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families with children under age 18–all at no cost.

California school meals food truck
Photo: NUSD’s food truck, which served farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to families across the district (Credit: Vince Caguin)

For Executive Director of Nutrition Services Vince Caguin and his team at NUSD, feeding local families is a passion–one that they’re committed to fulfilling no matter what: “It’s my belief that to play the long game of child nutrition and for it to grow and have an impact, we have to get out of the traditional four walls of our school district and the traditional 6 AM to 3 PM service model. Hunger doesn’t have a timeline, hunger doesn’t stop. It doesn’t take winter breaks, doesn’t take spring break and for us to serve our community, that’s a great opportunity for us.”

Moreover, he recognizes that school and summer meals do more for a community than just making sure kids don’t go hungry–although that’s paramount. Their program also provides jobs for nutrition staff, even providing opportunities for growth and promotion, and supports local farmers and growers. He sees it as a win-win for everyone.

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