HOUSTON – Several students in a major school district may be eating cold lunches starting Monday.
The Fort Bend Independent School Districted announced Tuesday it is moving forward with plans to serve courtesy meals to students with delinquent cafeteria balances starting next week, according to district officials.
“It has become apparent that immediate action is needed to assist in collection efforts, and we can no longer allow students to charge hot meals indefinitely and without limits,” Chief Financial Officer Steven Basset said in a statement from the school district.
Basset said starting Monday, any student with an outstanding balance of $35 or more will be served a courtesy meal that includes a cold cereal breakfast and a cheese sandwich with milk for lunch.
FBISD administrators said they are working hard to reduce the money absorbed in the district’s general fund as a result of outstanding child nutrition balances. According to district officials, the district is owed around $400,000 as of this week. It’s a balance that continues to grow, officials said.
The courtesy meals should prevent additional charges to student’s accounts until the delinquent balances are paid, Basset said.
“Even more importantly, it will ensure that our students do not go with an empty stomach if they do not have money to pay for a meal,” Basset said.
Earlier this month, the district's Child Nutrition Department sent out letters explaining to parents that the change will effect students with balances higher than $35. Administrators said email messages were also sent to parents late last week, in addition to notes sent to student homes this week.
Limited Impact on Free and Reduced Lunch Students
Students who qualify for free meals through the district’s Free and Reduced Lunch Program will continue to receive hot meals, Basset said. And students who qualify for reduced meals will continue to pay the same amount, according to district officials.
Basset said those eligible to purchase meals at a reduced cost will be unable to charge beyond the $35 limit. The district said it will continue to allow students to charge up to $35, excluding a la carte items, for the remainder of the school year.
The parents of affected students can pay their meal debts online or register for account email alerts atwww.fortbendisd.com/childnutrition.
Administrators said anyone with questions about their child’s balance should contact their campus cafeteria manager or the Child Nutrition Department at (281) 634-1855.