BACK TO SCHOOL: Free or reduced lunch stigma on students

"Some kids didn't want to eat if they had to be looked at as a free lunch kid"

LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) - "We are 86 percent free and reduced," Phyllis Dozier, Longview ISD Nutritionist, said. "We feed about 5,600 students."

Inside of one East Texas school cafeteria, they have found a way to get rid of the stigma for students who receive lunches free or at reduced cost.

"I didn't want any child, if they couldn't afford something, to not be able to have it."

Longview high school has five lunch lines: Pizza, grilled foods, Mexican food, soup and salad, and Luby's home-cooked style.

And they have met all federal regulations. So any child can eat from any line.

"If a child was on free and reduced and couldn't afford it, they stood out because any kid that had money could go to any line," Dozier explained. "I've taken all of that away. Any kid can eat at any line, whether a kid has money or doesn't have money, can eat from any line.

To be a free or reduced lunch student, your family has to make below a certain income. So special lines reveal information about students' families' finances.

"Some kids didn't want to eat if they had to be looked at as a free/reduced lunch kid. So we took all that away."

To have a system in place where any student can get lunch from any line, Dozier says it took a lot of work and it's something they're proud of.

"We're going to offer their kids the best, nutritional meal that they can get anywhere."

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