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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