The Killeen Independent School District began serving free breakfast and lunch to all students at all campuses, including those on Fort Hood Oct. 5, according to a release published by the school district.

The program will run through the end of the current semester, which ends Dec. 18. The limited funding is available through USDA waivers, as part of the Coronavirus Relief Act.

Dr. Jen Warren, Audie Murphy Middle School principal, has already seen an uptick in the number of students at her school eating breakfasts and lunches, she said.

“Part of that could be, you know, we’re having more face-to-face learners come back,” Warren said. “We’re enrolling frequently, however, what I have noticed, because I do have lunch duty every day, is that I have more kids that are eating. And that’s a great thing because sometimes we have kids who maybe necessarily wouldn’t qualify for the free or reduced lunch, but because of COVID-19 or different circumstances, their families might be going through some things. The kids are definitely taking advantage of it.”

The nutrition team at Audie Murphy is easily able to handle the increase in demand for meals though, Warren said.

“It’s not a burden, because even right now if you think about it, we are one of the highest middle schools as far as face-to-face enrollment,” Warren explained. “We have a little over 500 students that are here, so we are running at around 70% of what we are used to serving anyway.”

“And I will tell you the ladies that work in that department are phenomenal, so when we ... anytime something gets thrown their way, with you know we’re going to continue serving virtual, or we have to have a breakfast and lunch ready to go, for our families at home, so they can make one trip, they just bob and weave and adjust like pros,” Warren said.

Meals will be available on traditional school days, not including holidays or weekends. Students will be able to go through the cafeteria line and receive a free meal. A la carte items will still be available for purchase in the cafeteria.

Virtual learners will be able to continue picking up meals from their home campus during designated times. Students can pick up both breakfast and lunch and pick up locations will remain the same.

In addition to KISD students, the waiver allows the district to provide a free meal to any child between the ages of 0-18.

Parents may pick up meals without any required documentation if children are present. If children are not present, proper documentation is required. The following are acceptable forms of documentation: an official school letter, student report card, student ID card, attendance records with a student’s names or a birth certificate.

In the event the waiver is discontinued by the USDA, before Dec. 18, KISD will notify parents of any changes.

The program has allowed school administrators more time to focus on the actual students, rather than trying to run down forms and paperwork, Warren said.

“What is great is every school year, regardless of which school you are at, there is a grace period for our families that get free and reduced lunches,” Warren explained. “We put out information, ‘Hey, you have to reapply every year,’ and then we always have a period of time when families haven’t done that for whatever reason and as school, officials we worry in the nutrition department, we worry because we have kids that maybe aren’t eating. Now we continue to give those meals, but it creates a lot having to call or do paperwork, and it’s just great because now we can rest assured that 100% of our kids are going to get their needs met at least through this semester, so we’re not having to chase down or ask folks to fill out the free and reduced applications. We can just do what we do, and that’s love and serve kids.”