YISD adds free meal program after school

Ysleta H.S. launches "successful" pilot program

Good Morning El Paso: YISD launches...

EL PASO, Texas - An new meal program at Ysleta High School is being welcomed by dozens of hungry students.

Ysleta launched a dinner pilot program at the beginning of the year and students are flocking to the cafeteria after the final bell.

The Ysleta Independent School district is the latest to offer students a third meal, in hopes that students who are in after school sports or extracurricular activities will eat less junk food before they get home.

"I'm in the band, I'm in track and I'm the student council president. I'm here twelve hours a day, maybe sometimes longer," Ronald Ramirez said, a senior at Ysleta High.

Ramirez said he takes advantage of the extra meal for energy.

"Every day I grab a bite to eat before I go to practice."

The supper meals are offered from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. on school days and free of charge for anyone under the age of 18. Adults can purchase the meals.

Shortly after the program launch at Ysleta, Del Valle and Hanks have followed in recent weeks. YISD hopes to add more schools in the near future.

"This program has really taken off," Michael Vasquez said, the district's Director of Child Nutrition Services.

The supper program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program that comes from taxpayer dollars.

"We get a reimbursement order for every meal we serve," Vasquez said.

Not only is YISD helping the active teen, but also those who are at an economic disadvantage.

"We feel that there are students that need a helping hand by providing these suppers," Vasquez said.

Vasquez said the program also helps combat food insecurity.

"We want to make sure that all students receive a good nutritious meal."

The Paso del Norte Institute for Healthy Living reports that one in four children in El Paso is food insecure, many of them not knowing where they'll get their next meal from.

At Ysleta High School, assistant principal Phillip Barraza said an estmated 300 students stay after school for a few hours. He added about 150 meals are served everyday during the dinner program.

"After school, when you're a teenager, you're hungry -- period."

Barraza said "it's great" to know that they can recharge, refuel and continue on with their activities.

At YISD, 33 schools already provide free lunch meals to every student, regardless of family income. All YISD schools offer free breakfast.

The El Paso School District has a similar USDA-funded program. Children's Kingdom Café, a non-profit school nutrition organization is now providing after school meals at several district campuses.

Canutillo and San Elizario school districts also serve dinner at some of its campuses.

Vasquez said YISD modeled its program after San Elizario's "successful" program.

"It's something that the students really need and it helps them out."

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