The Education Action Network

Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

by Hayley Ringle - Apr. 18, 2012 10:39 AM
The Republic |

For the first time, the Higley Unified School District is opening two school cafeterias this summer to offer free breakfast and lunch during the week to anyone 18 and younger.

The free meals, and discounted adult meals, will be offered from Monday to Friday, May 29 to July 27, at Chaparral Elementary and Higley high schools.

There are no qualifications to eat for free other than the age limit, said Marie Yilla, general manager of Higley's food services department and Sodexo, the contract company that provides Higley with food.

"It creates a wonderful opportunity for students," Yilla said. "It doesn't matter if the child is a Higley student, lives in the area or qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Every child 18 and younger can eat a free meal, no questions asked."

Adults can also eat lunch for $3 and breakfast for $2.50, Yilla said.

The meals, which must be eaten on campus and have to meet federal nutritional standards, will be similar to what is served during the school year, but with fewer choices, Yilla said. Menu details are still being figured out, but the menu will soon be available on the district's website, she said.

Higley joins Queen Creek and Gilbert school districts, which have offered the Summer Food Service Program for years, to help families feed their children during the summer.

Higley hasn't been participated before because it didn't qualify, Yilla said.

The program is 100 percent funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Arizona Department of Education.

At least half the students who attend Chaparral's summer enrichment programs and summer camp qualify for free or reduced lunch, Yilla said. Higley High qualified through 2010 Census track data, which shows triangles of areas with at least 50 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, Yilla said.

Higley High offers summer-school classes and athletic programs during the summer. The other eightHigley schools are closed during the summer, Yilla said.

"This program is a wonderful blessing to help families going through financial difficulties," Yilla said.

The third way schools are included in the summer food program is when 50 percent of total enrollment qualifies for free or reduced priced lunches. Higley's Gateway Pointe Elementary is the closest, with 47 percent of students who qualify, Yilla said.

Yilla estimates Higley will serve at least 75 breakfasts and 150 lunches total between the two sites, although she hopes to serve more if the word gets out. Higley will not provide any transportation for the food program.

Chaparral's Kids Club summer camp, which runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, was able to offer 45 camp scholarships to students who qualify for free or reduced lunches because of the Summer Food Service Program, Yilla said.

"Kids can attend camp for free because Kids Club doesn't have to pay for food," Yilla said. "Those food purchases are now going towards scholarships."

Gilbert Public Schools will offer the summer food service program at 10 schools this summer, said Debbie McCarron, Gilbert's director of food service.GPS schools will serve food May 29 to July 27, with the days and times varying between sites.

More information will be available in the next few weeks at, under food and nutrition.

Queen Creek Unified School District will offer the summer food program at four sites -- one more than last summer --said Carol Weekly, Queen Creek's director of child nutrition.

Frances Brandon-Pickett Elementary, Queen Creek High, Newell Barney Junior High and Queen Creek Community Center, will serve meals from May 29 to July 13, with days and times vary depending on the site. For more:

For more about Higley's summer food program: 480-279-7120 or

Summer Food Service Program sites will be posted soon at

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