General Produce Co. LP

07/23/2021 | News release | Archived content

Back to School

No sweeter words res­onate more with par­ents today than 'you're going back to school'. Sweet words, yes, but maybe a bit con­fus­ing, as well.

The past eigh­teen months have not been a pic­nic for house­holds jug­gling work, home-​schooling, life sched­ules and fam­ily time.

The return to in-​person learn­ing will give a sem­blance of rou­tine and per­haps a promise to a more life-​balance for teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents.

Dur­ing the pan­demic, Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol (CDC) direc­tives have helped influ­ence school safety deci­sions. Recent updates rec­om­mend remov­ing pre­ven­tion strate­gies one at a time. With vac­cines only avail­able for peo­ple ages 12and older, a large pro­por­tion of school-​age chil­dren remain unpro­tected from COVID.

School dis­tricts are work­ing hard to flush out the details of what the school year will look like.

Every state, every county is pay­ing atten­tion to how new poli­cies for in-​person school or a hybrid pro­gram means will keep every­one safe from COVID. Some con­flicts between juris­dic­tions and local­i­ties are yet to be resolved.

Mean­while, kids still need to eat. Where they eat, how they eat and what they eat are the fine points indus­try enti­ties are inter­ested in know­ing. A con­gre­gate set­ting may not be avail­able for this school year. Likely, self-​serve salad bars are off the prover­bial table. 'Grab and Go', pre-​packaged break­fasts or lunches will be preferred.

When class­rooms in Cal­i­for­nia reopen for the fall term, all 6.2mil­lion pub­lic school stu­dents will have the option to eat school meals for free, regard­less of their family's income.

After schools shut down in March 2020, many trans­formed their park­ing lots into pickup sites for meals.
Fed­eral fund­ing allowed schools to offer free meals to any­one with­out any appli­ca­tion or income qual­i­fi­ca­tion. The mas­sive turnouts for free meals high­lighted how much fam­i­lies relied on these no cost meals. It wasn't just a solu­tion for low-​income fam­i­lies. As it turns out, every­one ben­e­fits.

At a time when Cal­i­for­nia seems flush on cash, a coali­tion called 'School Meals for All' has seized the moment to high­light and fund proper nutri­tion for every K-​12Cal­i­for­nia stu­dent. From the state bud­get, $54mil­lion will be allo­cated for the com­ing school year. This is sup­ple­mented by fund­ing from the Biden admin­is­tra­tion through June 2022. After that, Cal­i­for­nia will spend $650mil­lion annu­ally.

With ris­ing costs of gas, gro­ceries and every­thing else in Cal­i­for­nia, a bit of relief by way of pick­ing up the tab for stu­dents to be fed lifts a bur­den. The three dol­lars a day for a school meal may not sound like a lot. A fam­ily of three kids will save forty five dol­lars a week and $2340annu­ally. That's a relief.

One more nice thing about these fully funded meals is that the stigma for accept­ing a free break­fast or lunch can finally dis­ap­pear. Rather than skip­ping a meal due to pub­lic shame, every stu­dent can take part in meal ser­vice. Lunch is a uni­ver­sal need. Let's get back to school and back to learning.