Feeding 320K students doesn’t end with school lunch

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s a big task to get one of the largest school districts in the nation ready for another year.

Preparation goes beyond the classroom.

Clark County School District kitchen staff need to prepare to serve thousands of students, and demand is only increasing.

The school cafeteria is familiar territory for Dina Hubbard.

“The first week is all the hot favorites,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard has helped feed CCSD students for nearly 20 years.

“Pizza with ranch. Always,” she said.

On this last day of July though, Hubbard wasn’t in her familiar elementary school kitchen.

Instead, she was at Foothill High, where the school district’s lead dietician was teaching class.
Staff was there to learn what’s new in their cafeterias before school begins.

“Sessions of customer service, quality assurance …,” Lory Hayon began.

“New whole grain pancakes, new cereal options.”

Even though it’s still summer break, Hayon and her staff have been very busy.

“There’s a huge demand and I believe it’s getting larger and larger,” Hayon said.

Over the summer, CCSD provided more than 330,000 free meals to students. It’s one of several programs in which the district works to make sure children with few means still get plenty to eat.

“A student shouldn’t have to go hungry,” Hayon said. “There really needs to be programs available.”

CCSD has more than 320,000 students, and 65 percent of them qualify for free and reduced meals.

Not just lunch, but breakfast and in some cases, dinner too.

This year, 230 CCSD campuses have enough qualifying students to provide free breakfast and lunch to all of them, and 60 of those schools are new to the program.

“We assume that this area over here by the way the homes look, that they can afford meals,” Hayon said, motioning toward the neighborhood next to the school. “But there are pockets in every area. How we reach those pockets has been a challenge.”

For now, the challenge is to make sure each school and each cafeteria worker is ready to feed each students on day one.

Hubbard said, “Oh, I love being with the kids. They’re very silly.”

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