More Ector County Students Applying for Free Lunches

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The lay-offs, cutbacks, and souring economy aren't just impacting the bread-winners, it's affecting kids in the lunchline.

A rising number of Basin families are filling out the paperwork for free and reduced lunches.

School officials tell us this all started after Christmas. As many oil-related companies began lay-offs, those families had to re-evaluate their budgets and a growing number are having a hard time paying for lunch. 

"Most people don't want handouts," Terry Gooch, E.C.I.S.D. Nutrition Director said. "And for them to come in and say, 'my husband lost his job or my husband was laid off, his pay has been cut,' for them to come and say they need help, 'I can't make ends meet,' in some cases it's embarrassing. It's a tragic event in their lives."

School officials tell NewsWest 9, because it's been so hard for parents to ask for help, they've developed a system where students never know who's lunch is free.

They enter a number into the cafeteria computer, keeping their identity completely anonymous.
Administrators say there's no deadline on applying for free lunches - it's always open anytime a family's income changes.