New Westminster’s voluntary school lunch program, which includes subsidies for families who need it, is being rolled out to the full school district over the course of September and October.
The Fuel Up! program was launched at Queen Elizabeth Elementary, Queensborough Middle and Qayqayt Elementary schools in February, before going before the school board in June to determine its future.
At that meeting, staff raved about the positive outcomes from the nutrition program, which includes a hot menu and a cold menu, gluten- and allergy-free options and culturally diverse options.
But some trustees were skeptical of a five-year agreement with the school district’s partner in the program, Ready Maid Meals, citing concerns whether the district had done its due diligence before committing.
But school district spokesperson Holly Nathan said the five-year deal was later approved by the school board in an in-camera meeting, and the program is now being expanded to four new schools this month.
Lord Kelvin Elementary School was set to get the program on Monday, Sept. 16, followed by Glenbrook Middle and F.W. Howay Elementary schools on Sept. 24. Finally, Herbert Spencer Elementary School is scheduled to get the program on Sept. 26.
On Oct. 8 to 11, the program will then be rolled out to the final four schools, including (in order) Fraser River Middle, Richard McBride Elementary, Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary and Connaught Heights Elementary schools.
During the June meeting, staff spoke to the “really wonderful relationship” the district has with Ready Maid Meals, and the district’s surveys found the program was popular among staff and parents.
“We’ve also heard that families find it easy to access the partial subsidy,” said director of instruction programs and planning Quirine Gamblen in June.
A report on implementation of the program is expected at the next regular board meeting on Sept. 24, Nathan said.
The district is also hosting parent information nights – one was held for Lord Kelvin Elementary families on Sept. 11, with another to be held for Glenbrook, Howay and Herbert Spencer families on Sept. 17.
Finally, an information night will be held on Oct. 2 for Fraser River, Richard McBride, Connaught Heights and Lord Tweedsmuir families. More information on those events can be found at the school district website.