Church offers lunches, space to help with Killeen ISD overcrowding problem

Posted at 2:47 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2018-11-03 15:19:49-04

Despite growth being positive, the four Killeen high schools are experiencing growing pains. 

Grace Christian Center decided to step up to the plate, or offer the plate rather, after seeing students struggle to find nutritious lunches off campus even before they knew the issue was district-wide. 

"Due to the seating capacity issues that we have, we just are unable to seat every single student during that 45-minute lunch period," Shannon Rideout, the Communications Coordinator for Killeen ISD, said.  

 Campus Enrollment   Cafeteria Seating Capacity   Daily Average # of Students Eating in the Cafeteria 
Killeen High School 2,220 1,398 742

Shoemaker High School

2,082 1,398 669
Ellison High School 2,260 1,336 629
Harker Heights High School  2,241 1,368 594

*Campus Enrollment numbers are as of March 22, 2017.

*Cafeteria Seating Capacity numbers include both of the two 45-minute lunch periods. 

That's why Killeen ISD has an open campus policy where students can leave one of the four high schools during their lunch period.

"We first decided to open up our facilities to Ellison High School when we would see kids walking across the parking lot all the time to get to the Dollar Store or the gas station or the Donut Shop, and they'd just leave with a soda pop and a bag of chips," Rachael Schuck, the Community Relations Director for Grace Christian Center, said. 

Now, those same students from Ellison High School walk across the parking lot not for unhealthy snacks, but for a nutritious meal at Grace Christian Center.

"A kid will come over and they'll pay three dollars for their meal, and in their meal they'll get the meat, the sides and a dessert and then drinks. We always try and have a balanced meal," Schuck added. 

The church offers the meals Monday through Thursday.

"We're really proud of the fact that this is a place that the kids can come and build relationships and not just get a hot meal, but actually form relationships while they're here," Schuck said. 

While there may not be a formal agreement between the school district and Grace Christian Center, Killeen ISD has embraced their generosity. 

"We appreciate the fact that members of our community are willing to assist the district in meeting the needs of our students," Rideout added. 

The church has served up to 300 students in one day, and if students cannot afford lunch, they can work for it by sweeping the floor, wiping down tables or taking out the trash. 

Killeen ISD is trying to fix the cafeteria space problem at the four high schools, but school administrators are still mulling over several ideas and don't have any timeline on making any decisions.

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