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DISD To Offer Free Meals To All Students

Students line up for lunch in the cafeteria at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Friday, March 13, 2020. During the coming extended spring break school closures, this cafeteria and others in the Dallas Independent School District will be providing lunches to students despite the closure of the school. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
LM Otero/AP
Dallas Independent School District
All DISD students will get to eat for free, the district has announced.

Every Dallas ISD student will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free, the district announced Tuesday.

Nearly 90 percent of students in Dallas public schools qualified for free and reduced-priced meals last year, and district officials say about that many could be eligible this year. Processing that many meal applications costs money, so the district is changing the program by offering free breakfast and lunch to all of its students.

Dora Rivas, the district’s executive director of food and child nutrition services, said the district spends about $300,000 on the program, which includes hiring temporary workers.

“We have all this paperwork and we’re serving 90 percent of our students just to keep that 10 percent from eating a free meal or reduced,” Rivas said. “So by eliminating the process of meal applications, then we’re able to save some money and be able to then provide meals free to all students.”

The expanded meal program is allowed under a federal provision. Other Texas school districts that have a large number of kids eligible for free or reduced-priced meals also do the same.

Rivas said making sure kids eat breakfast and lunch is important for them to do well in school.

“Research has shown that children that are well nourished and not hungry, they’re able to be more attentive and more productive and their performance is better in the classroom,” Rivas said.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.