Nutrition services

LBUSD Nutrition Services Changing Meal Service –

Around the same time last year, Shannon Vega was running on the Cabrillo High campus five days a week. After arriving at 6 a.m. to prepare breakfast, the 3 nutrition services supervisor and her staff ensured that the students could get food at 21 different service points.

“It was a nonstop day for sure,” Vega said. “We scurried all over campus from the minute we walked in until the minute we left in the afternoon. “

Of course, nothing looks like last year for employees at the Long Beach Unified School District, and the entire nutrition services department is adjusting as fewer students come to campus for free meals. Vega said she typically serves between 800 and 1,000 lunches on a regular school day. Now it’s only 60-80 lunches a day.

“I really don’t know why,” Vega said. “Partly, maybe it’s because the online tuition schedule only allows them a half hour for pickup. Finding a way to get to campus can be difficult, and they can get food on campuses closer to their homes. Really, I think the downside of not being here where the food is probably has the biggest impact.

Vega and her team now come to campus in the morning and cook three meals at a time. They recently extended the pick-up time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a table near the front of campus. Because the food is prepared so early, much of it is not cooked and comes with heating instructions.

“Parents can come and collect meals for their students if they have a student ID or other form of identification,” Vega said. “And they don’t have to be students here at Cabrillo or at LBUSD. We provide food for all the children in this community.

LBUSD also ended up donating a lot of food to local organizations in the spring when everything came to a halt due to COVID-19. Today, the department has significantly reduced the volume of its orders from the central kitchen of the Nutrition Center. This warehouse depends on Vega and other supervisors of the school nutrition services to give an accurate count so that the food does not go to waste.

Vega, 50, knows the neighborhood well after attending elementary schools in Cleveland, Bancroft Middle and Lakewood High. She worked in nutrition services for 10 years after starting as a part-time employee for three hours.

“I really had no expectations,” Vega said. “I was looking for a job that would allow me to still be a mother and be present with my children. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Over the past decade, Vega worked at seven different LBUSD schools before taking on the supervisor role in Cabrillo, where they are now getting creative with pickup options for families. A parent or a student can come on Monday, Wednesday or Friday and collect meals for two days.

“So a student can have their meals on Monday and Tuesday on Monday, and we’ve also added a full meal for Saturday,” Vega said. “We just want it to be as convenient as possible for families. They don’t even have to go to their school, people can try different sites that might be closer to home or more convenient.

Vega and his team have just started providing meals for Cabrillo sports teams when they train on campus.

“They have been very helpful in feeding our children after practice in the morning,” said Cabrillo’s men’s soccer coach Pat Noyes. “The children were very grateful. We are happy that the football team is also fed now. “