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MUSD student meals up 8 percent
Manteca Unified trustees Eric Duncan and Kathy Howe prepare their plates during a demonstration lunch line at Wednesday’s school board workshop.

Growling stomachs and poor nutrition — long considered hurdles that many kids often have to overcome in order to be focused on learning in the classroom — isn’t an issue for Manteca Unified students.

A stepped up effort to make sure that those eligible for free and reduced meals get qualified plus MUSD’s ongoing efforts to make meals it serves tasty and healthy has led to an 8 percent increase in meals being served on an average day this school year. The more robust outreach to get those that qualify for subsidized meals has  allowed the district to substantially reduce unpaid student lunch charges that in previous years had ballooned to $212,000 at the end of the school year. What can’t be collected requires taking away from what can be spent in the classroom to cover any shortfalls.

Nutrition Education Director Brandy Campbell updated the MUSD board on her department during Wednesday’s board workshop. Nutritional Education employees also set up a demonstration lunch line to give trustees a feel for how meal service works in district schools.

“We have been able to add lunch to the minimum day bell schedule this year,” Clark noted.

Participation in minimum day lunch service is at 57 percent for those in attendance. It means many students that count on school lunch as perhaps their only nutritional meal of the day won’t go without on minimum days.

More than 50 percent of the district’s 24,000 students qualify for free and reduced meals. Manteca Unified is among the few districts that opt not to collect a reduce charge from those whose household incomes qualify them for it. Instead their meals are served free just like those that are served to those families that qualify outright for free meals.

Given Nutritional Education in Manteca Unified is designed to stand as self-supporting the 8 percent boost in meals served this year will help the department’s balance sheet.

The 25,596 meals served on an average school day to  kindergarten through 12th graders include:

u12,622 breakfasts.

u11,854 lunches.

u820 after school meals.

u300 contracted meals.

There are 205 employees in Nutritional Education.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email