To cut costs, the Houston school district won't be having summer-school classes on Friday this year, and that decision is affecting the free breakfast/lunch programs the district runs.
As usual, more than 200 schools will be offering meals free to students and at reduced cost to adults this year. But because of the cutback, only 14 of those will offer the program on Fridays.
Last year 1.8 million meals were served.
The district's announcement of this year's program only mentions in passing that some schools will be offering the program on Fridays; HISD spokesman Norm Uhl says the change is indeed due to the new summer schedule.
The 14 schools offering meals on Friday are the elementaries Alcott, Atherton, Blackshear, Brookline, N.Q. Henderson, Port Houston, Rusk and Wainwright; Black Middle School, Waltrip High and alternative schools Breakthrough, Medical Center and Young Scholars.
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More than 80 percent of HISD students qualify for free or reduced meals under federal guidelines. The summer program does not require paperwork or proof of income, and children do not have to be enrolled in summer school to participate.
"A prolonged period of time without adequate nutrition affects both the body and the brain, especially in children who are still growing," said HISD's Mark Welch, who coordinates the summer program. "The Summer Food Service Program ensures that children have access to the food they need in order to return to school physically and mentally prepared to learn."
The program is paid for by the federal government and its cost is determined by the number of meals served, Uhl said. He did not immediately have available an estimate for this year's cost or a 2010 figure.
The city has a similar program for lunch, and will be open on Fridays at all locations.