The number of students within both El Campo and Louise school districts who received free/reduced lunches this past school year remained about the same over last year.
Scott Gelardi, director of school nutrition for ECISD, and LISD Superintendent Garth Oliver do not expect much to change in 2019-2020.
Out of the 525 students enrolled within Louise, 67.5 percent received free/reduced lunch, with 307 getting a free lunch and 44 receiving lunch at a reduced price.
“It is consistent with the year before. They may change by a few here and there, based on the number of people who fill out the form. Historically, we get more funding based on the people who fill out the form,” Oliver said.
“I don’t know if they (state) are basing it on that anymore because of House Bill 3 that has shaken everything up,” he added.
Around 71 percent of the ECISD student body receives free/reduced lunch.
The campus with the most free/reduced lunch recipients is Myatt Elementary with 87 percent and the campus with the least numbers is the high school at 58 percent.
Gelardi said it is not very often that a student who does not qualify for a free/reduced lunch cannot afford to pay for a lunch.
“Not very often if at all,” Gelardi said.
Students can get a regular lunch and charge up to $6 in the negative. Upon exceeding the charge limit, an alternative lunch is then offered to the student, he added.
There is no charge for an alternative lunch. Students with negative balances on their cafeteria account are responsible for paying the charges and keeping their account in good standing.
Charges that are not paid for in full at the conclusion of the school year are considered bad debt and the district will then proceed to reimburse the food service account from the general fund to cover the balance of the bad debt.
“Districts are not permitted to carry over bad debt from year to year,” Gelardi said.
Some of that “debt” is often paid for by donations from businesses, churches and members of the community.
For the summer, any child can eat breakfast and lunch for free from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through July 3, and then again July 15 through Aug. 1 at Hutchins Elementary. Call ECISD at 979-543-4262.