The Dallas Independent School District says it will expand its offering of breakfast and lunch from six to 27 schools for students when Spring Break begins Monday.
The program will help not only meet the need for meals for more students when school is out, but also provide much needed structure and stability, according to district officials.
DISD started it as a pilot program in 2016 for schools in one feeder pattern, but will now have campuses open in every part of the district next week serving meals.
Included on the list is Sam Tasby Middle School in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood of Northeast Dallas.
Matt Bentley is his ninth year as a counselor at Tasby and said providing meals meets a need that goes far beyond hunger.
“When you’re in your early teens, a lot of kids don’t know how to structure the time and don’t do well when they don’t have a routine,” Bentley said. "They may not say it out loud, but its really something they crave and they need.”
Bentley said the clearest evidence of that need is when his students return from a break, whether it is winter holiday or even a one-week stoppage like Spring Break.
"The assumption is, they say, 'This was the best time and it’s terrible to be back at school,'" Bentley said. "But usually the kids say things more along the lines of, ‘It was boring,' 'I miss my friends,' or 'I miss being at school.'”
Michael Rosenberger is the executive director of the district's Food and Child Nutrition Services Department. He said the district estimates the program will cost $10,000 in extra labor for employees to administer the meals over a five-day period.
The goal, according to Rosenberger, is to continue to grow the program going forward.
"Every Spring Break from here on out, that is our expectation," he said.