BALDWIN PARK – A new supper program and an expanded breakfast program are radically boosting Baldwin Park Unified School District’s ability to serve thousands more socio-economically disadvantaged students each day.

The supper program, added this year, is serving an average of 2,500 meals each afternoon to students at elementary and middle schools, thanks to a federally funded program that tries to ensure students end their days with a nutritionally balanced meal.

The breakfast program has expanded to include Breakfast after the Bell, which serves morning meals to students who cannot arrive before school starts. Breakfasts served have skyrocketed to 4,400 meals a day at 14 sites – with some campuses seeing service jumps that top 500 percent.

“Proper nutrition is critical to ensuring our students excel throughout the day and while studying after school,” Superintendent Froilan N. Mendoza said. “I’m proud to say that we can include these evening meals in our comprehensive program of services aimed at providing our students with every chance to succeed.”

The supper program is funded through the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides meals free of charge for students in low-income areas. Around in some states since the 1990s, the supper program was expanded to all states in 2010. Baldwin Park joined in August 2015. The program is open to all students, regardless of income level.

Breakfast after the Bell was offered at five schools in 2014-15; nine more were added this year. At one campus alone, the number of breakfasts served jumped from 30 a day to more than 200 – reaching half the student body.

At Baldwin Park Unified, 9 of every 10 students qualify for free or reduced priced breakfasts and lunches, the only measure of poverty available to school districts.

In addition to the breakfast and supper programs, Baldwin Park Unified participates in the National School Lunch Program, provides infant and toddler meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program, snacks through its Head Start program and free meals during the summer for children under age 18.