Most school districts in Ellis County return to normal-pay meal programs

Waxahachie ISD has returned to its regular lunch and breakfast program after the U.S. Department of Agriculture ended its free lunch programs for all school children as of June 30. The free-for-every student program was started during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure all children received breakfast and lunch. As was the case prior to the pandemic, students will now have to apply and qualify for a school’s free or reduced lunch program. Otherwise, theey will have to pay for their meals.

Waxahachie ISD CFO Ryan Kahlden said applications can be filled out at any point throughout the school year.

“A parent at any point … is welcome to apply for the benefits of the program if they’ve had a change in status, if they’ve had a change in income, if they’ve had a change in the number of members living in the household,” he said. “They’re always welcome to reapply.”

Applications can be found online at or can be printed at school campuses.

WISD does not have any schools that individually qualify for free meals for all students. To qualify, schools must have 40% or more of their students “certified eligible” for free school meals, according to the Food Research & Action Center.

“We’d love for parents to know that we continue to provide high quality nutritious meals for our students,” Kahlden said. “We want to make sure that their students are getting fed in accordance with the guidelines for the program.”

WISD also offers second chance breakfast (which is offered through extended hours) for secondary students who are taking early classes or participating in early electives or tutoring and who miss the first breakfast time slot.

The Sun reached out to all school districts in Ellis County and asked how they were responding to the end of the USDA program.

Avalon ISD 

The Sun was unable to reach Avalon ISD, but according to its website, is not offering free lunches to all students. The district asks that all parents apply for the free/reduced lunch program regardless of if they are eligible or not.


Ennis ISD

“Ennis ISD does offer free breakfast to all students district-wide,” communications officer Bill Honza said. “At this time, Ennis ISD will not be offering free lunches to all students but is diligently looking into other USDA programs that may provide additional services for our students. Ennis ISD has been communicating with our parents and community through letters, emails, and social media that USDA waivers have expired and ended free meals to all students. Ennis ISD has encouraged all parents/guardians to fill out an application online or in person in order to potentially qualify for free or reduced meals.”


Ferris ISD

“FISD uses a Community Eligibility Provision to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students within the school district,” Superintendent James Hartman said. “The end of the current federal program will not impact our universal free meal service, which began prior to the pandemic and will continue in the future.”


Italy ISD

“Italy ISD is not offering free meals to students who do not qualify for free meals,” Superintendent Rachel Kistner said. “We are encouraging families to apply for the free/reduced lunch program.”


Maypearl ISD

“Maypearl ISD will continue to offer free and reduced meals,” Superintendent Ritchie Bowling said. “Students that do not qualify for a free or reduced lunch will go back to the previous option of buying a meal. The district allows students to charge a meal up to a certain amount and then provides an alternative meal. Maypearl ISD does offer an option for parents to donate to student accounts for those not paying for meals that do not qualify for assistance. For more information, parents or community members may call 972-435-1000 and speak with the child nutrition director.”


Midlothian ISD

“We are not offering anything outside of the free/reduced lunch program,” executive director of communications Sheri Brezeale said. “We are encouraging families who are eligible to apply to the program, and we are working hard to get the word out through newsletters, social media and our website. We want to make sure the information and the application is easily accessible. Over the summer, Manna House stepped in and provided free meals for students.”


Milford ISD  

“Before the pandemic Milford was already on track with the CEP (Community Eligible Provision),” Superintendent Amy Reyna said. “Since the free meal program went away, Milford went back to the CEP program. We felt this was the right decision to make for our students.”


Palmer ISD

“We are encouraging our families to complete the free/reduced lunch application,” Superintendent Kevin Noack said. “We are back to normal on the serving of meals. As is our policy, no student will go hungry. If they forget their lunch money or whatever, they will be provided a meal.”


Red Oak ISD 

“ROISD has returned to the previous application program for free and reduced meals for eligible students,” executive director of communications Beth Trimble said. “We are assisting families with the application process and providing breakfast and lunch for students.”



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