After-school meal program addresses hunger, health
by Michael Langley
Apr 19, 2014 | 6079 views | 4 4 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Supper Program
Angelo Diaz (left) and Raymondo Meza get a chicken wrap from Cinthya Matasol during the Supper Program at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy North School unit Tuesday afternoon.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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In the last week of March, members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tracy got something more than a snack when they showed up for their after-school programs: a full meal.

The Supper Program was launched by Tracy Unified School District in response to a growing need identified by the federal and state government, local educators and the children themselves.

“Kids have told me ‘Well, I don’t have food at home,’” Robert Pane, director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club, said Tuesday during meal service at North School. “Kids used to leave school, go to the liquor store and buy Cheetos and all that less-than-healthful food and bring it back. That’s what they were eating.”

Last year Pane started a conversation with TUSD Director of Food Services Valerie McDonald.

“A lot of students, their parents pick them up at 6 o’clock in the evening,” McDonald said as she watched first- through third-graders eat the meal prepared at the central kitchen at West High School. “Then they take them to (sports practice), and frequently they are just running through the drive-thru at McDonald’s or somewhere to get them something to eat on the way to ball.”

McDonald decided to come up with a new kind of meal, served five days a week, so that not only would the kids not go hungry, but they would eat healthfully, too.

“Good nutrition is associated with great cognitive thinking,” she said. “We’re trying a lot of new things with them, because the Boys and Girls Club are encouraging them to try new things and then teaching them about good nutrition. So we think they’re the best students that were willing to try the food.”

On the menu Tuesday: melon citrus jicama salad, tomato corn salad, shepherd’s pie made with red potatoes, Santa Fe chicken wrap made with fajita meat and chipotle-type flavors with corn and cheese in a whole-grain wrap, and low-fat or nonfat milk.

“Instead of a snack, they are getting an after-school meal. So it’s a fully nutritious meal. We have fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein and grain,” McDonald said.

Pane said that teaching club members to eat healthfully is a priority for the club staff.

“We’re basically flooding the kids with good food,” he said. “It’s taken off very strong and we’re getting a lot of support. There’s a lot of positive feedback from families about positive outcomes that are happening just from getting kids healthy meals.”

The TUSD Supper Program is now in action at all six school sites where the Boys and Girls Clubs have after-school activities: North, Central, South/West Park, McKinley and Villalovoz schools and the Richard O. Hastie Clubhouse at Monte Vista Middle School.

“This is just a great program, and we’re glad that we’re able to kick it off here at our Boys and Girls Clubs. We’ll see the benefits almost instantly,” Pane said. “We are very appreciative of Tracy Unified for putting this program together.”

 Contact Michael Ellis Langley at or 830-4231.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 23, 2014
Well said sb2482 !!!!!!
April 22, 2014
No food at home but like the previous poster said, I bet they have cell phones, computers, video games, 400 TV channels, and I bet mom gets a regular pedicure and manicure. While I am all for helping those who truly need help, I bet if I sent my kid to that after school program he or she would get fed as well even though there is plenty of healthy food available at my house. Now it is my responsiblity as a tax payer to feed everyone's children regardless of real need. Just because mom and dad drive through McDonalds on the way to sports practice (which by the way isn't free is it?) doesn't mean they have to let their kid get hamburgers and french fries. There are healthier choices. Now, it seems, we have absolved parents of the responsibility of raising and feeding their own kids. How soon will our taxes increase to pay for this program long term?
April 21, 2014
Let's see kids have no food at home this must meen the tax payer assistance program is not giving there parents enough money. Yet they have enough money for Cheetos, mcdonalds, and I bet a cel phone,computer games, and big chrome wheels on there Escalade that gets 10 miles per gallon. Mrs Obama is not doing her job if kids are still eating garbage.sounds about right
April 19, 2014
This is why people come to America ...

Strange, when I go to any grocery store, I see an incredible volume of fat children and fat adults. The children in these pictures don't look remotely underfed, but if you decide to give people something free--which is paid for by someone else--they will gladly take it.

I don't blame them.

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