School district receiving more lunch IOU's

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - About 66% percent of AISD's student population is enrolled in the free and reduced meal program, a number that has steadily increased about one percent each year, for the past five years.

It's leaving the district caught between feeding kids and maintaining a balanced budget.

It costs $1.80 for elementary schoolers and $2.05 for middle and high schoolers, but even then, tough economic times are making it harder for more students in our area to afford school lunch.

AISD Food Service Manage Brent Hoover says, "Typically we allow up to a few charges to give them an opportunity to pay the charges back."

But those charges add up.

The school district has an outstanding debt of about $10,000 of unpaid lunch money.

When you break it all down, that comes out to about a quarter per student.

Hoover explains, "In the scheme of things, it's a small number compared to how many students we have here at AISD. We have almost 33,000 kids."

But $10,000 is still $10,000, which is why the school district does everything they can to reach out to these families.

They send home letters and automated reminders about their overdue balances, and then find out if the child qualifies for the free and reduced meal program.

Hoover says, "A lot of times they are not aware they can fill out the application throughout the school year, as things change, like if they have more people living with them, if they lose a job, or have another child, they can re-apply throughout the school year."

Even if they have been denied benefits in the past.

The school district will never allow a student to go hungry when they are at school.

If the student exceeds their limit of meals without paying, they are given an alternate meal to tide them over.