Students at YES Prep Fifth Ward who participate in ACE and athletics now have access to a healthy meal after school. The campus is piloting YES Prep’s first dinner program, offering anyone under 18 a free meal. Jazzminn Richey, ACE coordinator at YES Prep Fifth Ward, spearheaded the program. “It’s something so necessary for our kids. They’re hungry after school, and some of them go home and have nothing in the fridge,” she said.
Fifth Ward piloted the program during STAAR week, so that students would be well-fed in preparation for testing. The campus sold out each day during the pilot week and increased the number of meals offered during the second week to account for the demand.
“It’s important to get dinner so that when we’re in soccer practice, we’re not weak. We’re filled up with what we need,” said Rivaldo Mendez, a seventh-grade soccer player at Fifth Ward.
Other students agreed. “We used to just have snacks, but this is a whole meal,” said Maria Sendejo, an eighth-grade student. “It’s something healthy.”
The program is funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture, and is available to anyone in the community under 18– not just YES Prep students.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure all kids in the community have access to a hot meal,” said Roberto Byles, YES Prep’s Manager of Food Services. “We’d like them to think of our school as a community center.”
The program could also introduce more families to YES Prep. “If we get the community more involved in the program, they’ll start to learn about YES Prep and how it can impact them, Richey said.