Redlands schools serve on-campus Grab and Go meals amidst pandemic

Originally published in La Plaza Press


On Wednesday, April 14, five days before students returned to in-person school, Redlands East Valley High School students and parents received an email from Assistant Principal Ronald Kroetz. The email included an attached document to inform students of the many procedures set in place to help create a safe learning environment on campus. In regards to lunch, the document explicitly states that the school “anticipates that there will be a minimal choice of meal options” and “if you are a picky eater you might want to bring your own lunch”; thus, students were warned of a potential lack of variety; however, they were not informed of any other details that specify what on campus grab & go meals would look like. 

The on-campus Grab and Go lunches are prepackaged for students in a brown paper sack labeled “Locker Mates.” This allows for students to access their meal swiftly with minimal social interaction. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

Previously, students getting hot lunch would get to choose their lunch items from a selection, then proceed to checkout to pay. Now, prepackaged lunches at school come at no cost for students, which allows anyone to easily walk up to their school’s cafeteria to grab one.

According to Betty Crocker, the director of Child Nutritional Services, Child Nutritional Services is “providing a unique service.” She relates that “due to COVID and safety requirements, all of the [meals] are a cold service with items individually wrapped.”  These safety guidelines limit the type of food available for distribtuion. 

This prepackaged lunch consists of a total of five items: one pack of Jack Links’s chicken tender bites, sunflower seeds, applesauce, Beans and Veggie crackers, and a dragon punch. In addition, students are given the option to take an additional milk, apple slices, and applesauce that are not included in the packaged sack. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

Some students attending both REV and Citrus Valley High School have expressed their dislike for their school lunches and their inability to satisfy them.

This is the case for CV junior Janelle Gallegos. She said, “They are gross and not fulfilling. I eat sunflower seeds everyday for lunch, because it’s the only good thing they serve.” 

While this is Gallegos’s personal opinion, her disapproval of the insubstantial quality of food is a common complaint shared by other students. REV freshman Kris Garcia said, “Well, see the problem is that it is very little food, and the very little food that they have is very trash food.” 

Cia Anderson, a REV freshman, said, “It’s like prison lunch. Basically I was like telling my parents about it and they were like ‘yeah it’s like prison lunch.”’ Thus, Anderson acknowledged the lunches inadequacy and her parents agreed. 

However, not all in-person students are upset with the current pre-packaged lunches and some have expressed their contentment. 

REV sophomore Deacon Arne said, “I just really need to eat. I think it’s good.”

A second grab-and go meal option includes four food items and one beverage: hummus, one whole wheat tortilla, sunflower seeds, mixed-berry applesauce, and an orange, tangerine juice box. Unlike the previous lunch, this meal lacks a high protein food item.  (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

While it is true that students are given the option to prepare their own lunch for school, not all in-person students have that option. For some, school lunch may be the only meal that they receive all day. This stresses the important responsibility of the school to provide a nutritional and fulfilling lunch for students.

Lunch is especially vital for student-athletes, as it is generally the last meal they have before after-school practice or games. These athletes rely on a nourishing lunch to give them the needed energy to perform to the best of their ability in their sports. 

The time at which the school will return to serving hot lunch remains inexact. Crocker states that child nutritional services “[looks] forward to resuming our hot breakfast, lunch and after school meal programs when we emerge from the pandemic”; however, there is no exact date that pinpoints when emergence from the pandemic will take place. Thus, on campus Grab & Go meals will continue for the remainder of this semester and possibly the beginning of school in august. 

Redlands Unified School District Child Nutrition Services is still offering their Curbside Grab & Go meals for no-cost. 

“This is where we provide all families bulk-style meals along with the individually wrapped meals, eggs, bagels, and strawberries,” said Crocker. 

These bags, containing a week’s worth of meals, are available to be picked up between 6 to 8 a.m. every Wednesday at either REV, Redlands High School, Mission Elementary School, Clement Middle School or Beattie Middle School.

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