Free meals available for all Fresno Unified students

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's back to school at Fresno Unified.

On Monday morning, thousands of students returned to class district-wide. For most, a prosperous school year starts with a morning essential - breakfast.

"It helps you to be more focused in class and not always be hungry, and to be more active," said McLane High School sophomore Alaura Ballin.

Students at McLane High School and district-wide have one less worry when it comes to picking up a fresh piece of fruit or a carton of milk. Breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks are all free for all students at Fresno Unified.

"Anybody can eat, we don't really force anybody to pay for their lunches in Fresno Unified because 89% of our students qualify for free lunches," said FUSD Superintendent Bob Nelson.

All those meals come from the Fresno Unified School District Nutrition Center. On a daily basis, 40,000 lunches are made there and then distributed to Fresno schools. Every menu item is taste-tested by students. New this year are more vegetarian options like the black bean burger and meatless chicken nuggets.

"A vegan chicken nugget... we are in the process of getting them ordered," said FUSD food services director Jose Alvarado.

There is also a push for local products. Currently, they're trying out a Thai chili sweet sauce made with locally grown chilies.

Students and parents have the power to influence what stays and goes through the NutriSlice app. There they can checkout, rate and leave feedback on menu items.

"We want to learn from you - the parents, what is your student saying and telling you when they get home?" said Alvarado. "Did they like the menu that day or not? Because we want to change the menu to reflect our students."

And for students, what they eat makes a huge impact on their success.

"It is very important, you have to get your nutrients so that your nutrients could go up to your brain and process all your energies," said McLane High School Senior Kia Moua.
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