by Diane Tuazon
ODESSA - With a new school year approaching, ECISD officials are working to make sure students stay fed, but right now, they don't know who's going to qualify for free or reduced lunches since the qualification guidelines issued by the government are late.
"Out of the year I've worked here, I've never seen it the guidelines this late. The state puts on guidelines for who is eligible for free or reduced and we haven't got those yet," School Nutrition Director, Terry Gooch said.
Normally income guidelines for lunch programs are released by February or March, but about a month away from the beginning of a new school year, officials are having to turn to another alternative.
"We could do approvals from last years guidelines because even if they put out new guidelines they wouldn't be very different from last years, if not easier for more families to qualify," Gooch said.
School officials say the change in guidelines is the states way of making sure every child is ensured a healthy meal at while in school.
"Our country is being overly cautious and making sure it's taken care of and that more people need benefits than not," Gooch said.
School officials say last year, almost 12,000 students at ECISD schools turned in an application, and they're anticipating that number to increase this coming school year.
They expect the new guidelines to come in the next couple of weeks.