How to Help Keep Student Meal Accounts Current

A recent social media campaign is encouraging donations to school districts to help offset negative balances on student meal accounts. 

Food Services Director Anneliese Tanner said that at Austin ISD, no students are ever denied a meal because their accounts aren't current.

Instead, the district absorbs the cost of feeding all students who need a lunch, running at a deficit of about $14,000 on any given day.

"We're committed to providing healthy food access for all students," she said. "No student ever goes without a balanced meal, regardless of their account balance or payment status."

After her department received numerous requests on how supporters could donate to student meal plans, Nutrition and Food Services created an online giving option.

Those interested in donating may click here to visit the online giving platform EdBacker and donate to help keep AISD student meal accounts current.

Costs for student meals are $1.50 for a full-price breakfast at all schools, $2.70 for full-price lunch at elementary schools and $2.85 for full-price lunch at middle and high schools.

Students who have negative balances in their meal accounts are offered a courtesy meal: sandwich, milk and a veggie at the elementary level, and sandwich or salad, milk and a veggie at the secondary level. 

"On average, the district absorbs about $350,000 to $500,000 each year as we provide meals for our students," Tanner said. 

To support one elementary or middle school student with a hot lunch every day for the spring semester would cost about $270, she said. Breakfast and lunch both would be about $420. 

To do the same for one high school student would cost about $285 for lunch alone, and about $435 for breakfast and lunch.