Pagosa Peak Open School launches meal program


By Alison Beach

Pagosa Peak Open School

Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) has announced its new meal program for the 2020-21 school year. This program will include breakfast and lunch offerings, as well as free and reduced lunches.

Due to COVID-19, we will utilize a Meals in the Classroom program to keep students in their physical-distancing groups. Using this model, students will have a grab-and-go model for breakfast and be allowed time in class to eat. For lunch, meals will be delivered to the classroom and teachers will be filling in the role of distributing meals in class.

At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, PPOS won’t have a completed kitchen on-site to cook healthy meals, so the school is partnering with Best Western to use its kitchen. Due to its close location to the school, PPOS will be able to transport food in a safe and timely manner allowing students to enjoy fresh meals during school hours. Once we complete our kitchen and after COVID, PPOS looks forward to parent involvement serving meals.

Lexi Bernstein, formally an AmeriCorps Food Security Champion who served at PPOS in the 2019-20 school year, will be running the meal program starting in the fall.

“My passion for healthy food was rooted during my childhood,” explained Bernstein, “but came to fruition when I went to college and realized many people didn’t have the same upbringing I did. Gardening, composting and family-style meals were a part of my life I wanted to share with families who might struggle to provide. Our brains, bodies and emotions are linked so closely with what we eat, I feel without healthy and nutritious foods, as well as proper food education, we are unable to shine to our full potential.”

Bernstein added, “I am so excited to be working at PPOS during this time and see how much we can grow and push our creative framework. Although I won’t be able to interact with students as much as last year, I am hopeful we will be able to continue our nutrition education and food security awareness through the Meals in the Classroom program.”

The school is utilizing to keep families informed of meal choices and students’ account balances. This portal is a way to keep tabs on how much money is in students’ accounts and has digitized the family income paperwork for the school, which allows students to utilize a payment plan for meals. Free and reduced lunches are priced at $0, while a full-price student breakfast is $1.60 and a full-price student lunch is $3.10. Adult/staff breakfast and lunch will cost $2.10 and $3.75, respectively.

In the spirit of PPOS’s connection to food, the charter school wants to include as much local food and cooking from scratch as possible, although it will take some time to iron out bumps in the system. The school is also planning to include students in creating the meal plan in the future to increase the variety of food offered. As of now, this meal plan includes breakfast items like strawberry banana pancakes, egg and sausage burritos and yogurt parfaits. For lunch, PPOS will strive to give students some options for meals every day. Current meals include veggie or classic lasagna, pizza Fridays, tater tot casserole and more.