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Manor ISD aims to ensure all students have hot meals by tackling school lunch debt with new program

The students' parents will remain responsible for their negative balances, but MISD hopes to prevent punishing the child for it.

AUSTIN, Texas — In an attempt to ensure all students receive a hot meal, Manor Independent School District is starting a new donation-driven program at their schools to help pay for the lunches of children with negative balances.

Manor ISD said starting Friday, all campuses that charge for lunch will have a "Lunch Buddy" account that students with negative balances can use to pay for their lunch. They said donations have been made by parents and community members that are interested in canceling out the $1,500 worth of lunch debt in the district.

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The students' parents will remain responsible for their negative balances, but Manor ISD hopes to prevent punishing the child for it.

Manor ISD Director of Food Services George Townsend said a donation is needed to get each school started.

"As soon as we receive that money from the public, we will apply it to the school that they request," Townsend said.

Those interested in donating to the program can contact either the individual schools they wish to donate to or the Manor ISD Food Services Department.

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At the program's pilot school, ShadowGlen Elementary, parents raised more than $700 for the "Lunch Buddy" account in November, which still has $315 leftover, according to MISD.

Manor ISD said that donations are required to keep the program running, and once funding runs out they'll have to return to their current policy, which only affords students two free meals once their balance is emptied.

After a student's balance is emptied, students are then given a sandwich and milk, the district said.

This program will not include Decker Elementary, Manor Elementary Early Learning Center, Presidential Meadows Elementary and Manor Excel Academy, because those campuses qualified for free breakfast and lunch for all students prior to the start of school, the district said.

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