Child nutrition department makes the cut with Children at Risk

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Serving up one meal to a Dallas Independent School District student could mean the difference in a child eating or going hungry that day. That’s why Dallas ISD’s Food and Child Nutrition Services (FCNS) department takes all things food seriously. It’s also the reason they were recently recognized by Children at Risk, an education advocacy group, for their approach on child nutrition.

Margaret Lopez, executive director of FCNS, graciously accepted the award during a press conference earlier this month.

“Students shouldn’t be hungry for anything but learning,” Lopez said.

District programs promoting healthy eating could not be possible without the help of valuable partnerships like the USDA. Dallas ISD’s food nutrition department is then able to help implement initiatives targeted at urban youth. The most recent program FCNS adopted, already receiving success, is the supper program.

“To date, the Dallas ISD has served 9.3 million lunches, 7.5 million breakfasts and about a half a million supper [meals]. That’s a lot of food going to a lot of kids,” Lopez said.

For several years, Children at Risk has ranked schools based on educational indicators. These rankings have started a conversation about quality education and the need for it to continue. New to their annual rankings was a measure on top-performing districts for use of federal food programs such as school breakfast, lunch, and supper programs.

Districts had to meet two criterions to be in the ranking. A district must have 10,000 children enrolled; and have at least 60 percent of children eligible for free and reduced meals. FCNS received recognition in two categories: top five districts with over 50,000 students; top 10 districts with over 10,000 students.

Jenny Eyer, associate director of health and nutrition for Children at Risk announced the non-profits findings. After conducting research of children who receive a substantial meal daily, Children at Risk learned nearly 2 million children in Texas went without, or did not know when their next meal was coming.

“In order for students to reach their full potential, they need to have access to quality nutrition programs,” said Eyer.

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