Lunch Tray Program feeds hungry students, promotes healthy life

Published 9:24 am Saturday, May 11, 2019

By Mary Weikum

Director of Food and Nutrition Services

In the spring of 2018, the Austin Public Schools Food and Nutrition Department launched The Lunch Tray Project (LTP).

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The goal of LTP is to help families whose income is just above the maximum guidelines to qualify for free or reduced priced lunches by funding some or all of their school lunch costs. Data compiled by the United Way of Austin tells us that a family of four living in our community who earns a median monthly income of $3,522 has just $65 left each month after paying for basic needs such as healthcare, rent, taxes, childcare, etc.

A single parent with one child does not qualify for free or reduced lunch prices if they gross more than $2,538 per month.  These are the hard working families that the LTP aims to help. After launching the LTP last spring, we were gratified by the number of individuals, families and organizations that donated money to help families struggling to pay for school lunch.

In order to receive funds, families must fill out an application for free or reduced lunches and missed qualifying by less money that school lunch for the year would cost, which averages $450 per student.  A sliding scale was used to determine the level of help.  Some students received enough to pay for all lunches for the entire year, others for half a year.

Because of our generous community, $10,830 was distributed into 41 student accounts.  We believe this has a lasting impact on working families in our community, by taking one worry away from parents who generally qualify for no aide of any kind.  This decreases barriers for students and makes a huge impact on families.

We know that students who are nourished fare better academically, as well as socially and behaviorally. The Food & Nutrition Department would like to thank the many donors to our project.  Our community continues to amaze us by their support for our students.

If anyone has any questions about The Lunch Tray Project or wishes to make a donation, please contact Mary Weikum at 460-1919 or