EPISD students no longer have to hear their stomach grumble if they stay after school for tutoring or extra-curricular activities.
Children’s Kingdom Café, a non-profit school nutrition organization that is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is now providing After-school meals at several District campuses.
“We provide free meals for children throughout the city of El Paso,” program coordinator Jaclyn Babers said. “Each school is an open site so any child, as long as they are between the ages of 1-18, can come and eat. The goal is to serve as many kids in the El Paso area as possible.”
All meals are cooked offsite and then delivered to participating schools. The participating schools are:
- Bowie High
- El Paso High
- Bassett Middle
- Magoffin Middle
“Each meal we provide includes a total of five components. We offer a grain, vegetable, fruit, milk and protein,” Babers said. “It’s a variety of hot and cold meals daily.”
Bassett Middle School teacher Lorenzo Duran believes the meals are a blessing to the students and other children in the community.
“The kids really look forward to the meals. They come by my class and check to see what we are serving,” Duran said. “It’s a wonderful program. Just the fact that they provide the students with a free meal is just great.”
Duran, along with teacher Mario Castañeda, serve the meals to students who stay after school for sports, clubs and tutoring. During football season they can get as many as 120 students signing up for a meal, but typically they serve around 60-70 students daily.
Seventh grader Celeste Garcia stays after school for basketball practice. Her favorite meal is the nacho entrée, but she likes all the meals the program provides.
“Food is food. You can’t practice on an empty stomach,” Garcia said. “It’s also great for the kids whose parents work late they can come here and have dinner.”
The program, which serves more than 2,000 meals per day, just expanded recently to include several high schools, including Bowie and El Paso High.
Bowie freshman Ansgar Trejo was among the nearly 200 students taking advantage of the chicken nugget and mashed potato supper at the school Tuesday.
Trejo likes the program because it means he can stay for extracurricular activities and not worry about being hungry.
“I think the program is pretty cool because it saves our family money on dinner. I get home, and I already had dinner so I can do my homework right away,” Trejo said. “I hope they continue to do it here at Bowie.”
The organization hopes to keep growing and providing free meals to students and children in El Paso.
“We have had so much positive feedback from this program. We get notes from children at different sites stating how excited they are and how thankful they are,” Babers said. “We want to make sure we make the opportunity known to as many children as possible. We want them to know there is free food for them to eat.”