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Non-profit organization to help pay off Killeen ISD's $130,000 student lunch debt

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 17, 2020

KILLEEN, TX — There are just over 45,000 students in the Killeen Independent School District, and more than half of them, 57%, get free or reduced lunch.

25 News discovered KISD has a $130,000 lunch debt, and people want to know how that debt is going to be paid off.

Three meals a day, that is what Killeen ISD parent Crystal Solak makes sure her son gets everyday.

"I get help from the state with lunches. So him being at school, being able to get breakfast, lunch is really like helpful," she said.

But Solak was surprised to learn that the district's school lunch negative account balances total $130,000.

"That's kind of crazy actually. If that's an issue, then it needs to be fixed," said Solak.

KISD School Nutrition Director Evan Leach says the amount is not unusual for a district the size of Killeen's. He says no matter what, each student gets to eat their lunch.

"With the polices that we have in place, where our mission first and for most is to feed students," said Leach. "School lunch debt doesn't impact our ability to feed students, and our policy here that kids that come through our serving line, we will feed them, they will eat. No kid leaves the school hungry."

At the end of the school year, district officials say the debt is paid off and the district's general fund incurs any debt.

"The school nutrition and the district, we have two separate budgets," said Leach. "Pass that debt along to the district and the district will, you know, facilitate that."

In the meantime, to help the district erase the debt, some former KISD parents are stepping up to the plate to help.

"We decided to take on this initiative to assist our school nutritional program with the deficit that they have," said Dorothea Goodson, Treasurer for the Women's Army Corps Veterans Association Chapter 94 (WACVA). "To hear that dollar amount was so high, it's almost overwhelming, but we're taking on the challenge and we're asking the entire community."

So far, WACVA Chapter 94 has donated $250 to go toward KISD's school lunch debt.

Throughout the school year, parents can apply for free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

25 News looked at student lunch debt at other schools in Central Texas to better understand the debt seen at Killeen ISD.

As of Friday, Jan. 17, Belton ISD’s balance is $5,982.33. Midway ISD’s balance is $1, 827.90.

Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, Waco ISD was designated a Community Eligibility Provision District. This means Waco ISD students receive free meals.

25 News also reached out to Copperas Cove ISD.

“The amount of negative balances rises and falls depending upon when people get paid, and it is not realistic to give amounts until the end of the school year. It is not considered bad lunch debt until end of year when parents haven’t paid accounts off completely,” said CCISD Director of Child Nutrition Melissa Bryan.

To contact WACVA Chapter 94, click here.