NEISD program ensures students in after-school programs are well-fed

Free meals, snacks offered at schools in low-income neighborhoods

SAN ANTONIO – Staying after school for sports or extracurricular activities can wear a student down, which is why the North East Independent School District wants to make sure students who attend schools in low-income neighborhoods are equipped with the nutrition needed to excel beyond the classroom.

"Any extracurricular activity (participant) has the option to sign up for them as long as they're within a Title I school," said Jennifer Hall, assistant athletic coordinator at Nimitz Middle School.

Sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and milk are just a few of the free menu items. Program facilitators said food is a necessity heading into a big game or competition.

"The majority of our kids will take it, so nobody is on the spot or singled out," Hall said.

Parents said the program is a great idea.

"If there's something that they can eat, that they're going to enjoy and be full and be able to play the way they should be playing, then that's a great idea," said Elizabeth Gonzales, whose eighth-grade son plays football at Nimitz Middle School.

Deshawn McNeal, a seventh-grade athlete who plays five sports, said he knows how important good nutrition is before a game.

"It makes me feel ready for the day," he said.

Whether it's class or sports, Deshawn is always on the move.

"It takes a lot out of me to, like, even go to class or walk up the stairs if I haven't eaten anything," he said.

And like other athletes his age, Deshawn's appetite is growing.

"(Deshawn) being in the seventh-grade, his appetite has changed from, 'I'm going to barely eat this, to I need four of these meals a day,'" said Andrea Roberson, Deshawn's mother.

Fortunately for Deshawn, who plays football, basketball, golf, tennis and track, that's one less thing to worry about.

"That's actually a very big help," Roberson said.

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