COPPERAS COVE, TX — Copperas Cove ISD (CCISD) has provided students with a meal whether they had money in their accounts or not which ultimately results in unpaid student meal debt of $20,000 to $30,000 annually, said CCISD Director of Child Nutrition Melissa Bryan.
“At the end of the year when monies cannot be collected for this debt, the CCISD general fund normally pays those amounts to the child nutrition department due to our regulations,” Bryan said. “Since we did not make the change to free meals with the waiver until the middle of September, we had some students who had already charged meals and went into the negative (balance).”
In 2018, CCISD began serving free breakfast to all its students during the 2018-2019 school year and this year, due to the pandemic, the school district was able to receive additional funding to provide free lunches for all students through the 2020-2021 school year.
However, debt still remained for the 2019-2020 school year and this school year.
The Ted Smith Law Group recognized the need and then made a $5,000 donation to the CCISD Child Nutrition Department said Attorney Raymond Panneton. The firm then challenged its clients and other law firms to donate, resulting in a $9,000 donation to the Angel Fund.
“When I heard (of) this program and the wonderful work that the district does in turning no student away from a hot meal, I knew that’s what we had to invest our time and our money into,” Panneton told CCISD school board members at the January meeting.
The debt incurred is not by students on free or reduced meal programs as they are covered through government funding. The debt incurred is from families who do not pay for their students' meals and have not completed forms for free or reduced meals.
“By using the donated Angel funds, we were able to reduce the account balances of 208 students,” Bryan said. “With these donations, there is an assurance that they are helping the kids, the students, the families of our community.”