House bill could affect free lunches at East Texas schools

House bill could affect free lunches at East Texas schools
(Source: Raycom Media Staff)
(Source: Raycom Media Staff)

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Soon many East Texas schools may be forced to put restrictions on who may receive free lunch. Right now, there is a program in place that allows students in some East Texas districts to receive free breakfast and lunch.

"For some districts, it's a win situation, some districts not so much," said Robin Thacker, the director of students Nutrition at Nacogdoches ISD.

One of the most important meals of the day is coming with a new price tag, thanks to a 180-page bill called, Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016.

"It's taking the place or amending the Healthy Kids Hunger Free Act of 2010," Thacker said. "It's going to either update or change things that are already in that bill to get us through the next five years."

Currently, schools that have 40 percent of students who receive government aid qualify for the community eligibility provision program.

However, this new bill will change that percentage to 60 percent.

"If you're in the 50 percent then you won't be able to be under the community eligibility provision," Thacker said. "It's taking away the districts flexibility to feed everybody for free, breakfast, and lunch and still be able to claim reimbursement.

This will affect more than 800 schools in Texas.

"It affects your comp education money, and it affects your E-rate funding," Thacker said. "There are other funding's that it affects in addition to your child nutrition program."

However, some school districts see no reason to fix something that's not broken.

"If a school district is able to make the CEP work, and it works financially across the board for everyone involved, then they should keep it at the 40 percent and not go to the 60 percent," Thacker said.

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