Child nutrition worker Maria Ramirez grabs meal bags and places them on a cart during School Lunch Heroes Day on April 29 at Alexander Elementary School. Denton ISD honored child nutrition workers at campuses serving meals.

Sober predictions about the number of students on federal meal assistance will be put to the test as we approach the 2020-21 school year.

Denton ISD will begin sending out letters July 16 to let families know what the eligibility requirements are for its free and reduced meal programs.

The federal program allows eligible children to receive breakfast and lunch at a reduced cost. That eligibility can be determined by a variety of factors, including household income.

Foster children, those in a school’s Head Start program, those currently experiencing homelessness and others could receive cheaper or no-cost food from their schools.

Applications for students enrolled in Denton ISD schools can be returned to the students’ campuses or to the Child Nutrition Office at 1303 N. Elm St. in Denton.

They can also be filled out online after making an account with schoolcafe.com. Schools might experience a surge during certain times of the year, but applications to the federal program are accepted year-round, regardless of the school district students are enrolled in.

District administrators have long predicted a significant uptick in the number of students enrolled in the program as economic ripples of the coronavirus pandemic continue.

School districts send information about the meal program to the Texas Education Agency each October, the most recent set of which shows Denton ISD had 14,213 students participating in the program.

That means roughly 46% of the district’s 30,919 students were enrolled in the program at the time of that snapshot. Eligible students not enrolled in the program aren’t included in that count.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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