School is out for the summer, but students can still receive free breakfast and lunch at several Marble Falls Independent School District locations.
The Summer Food Service Program, sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture, has been adopted by school districts across the state, according to Yarda Leflet, executive director of Instructional Services at MFISD. All students are welcome to visit any of the locations for meals.
The district is also partnering with the Highland Lakes Crisis Network this summer to deliver food bundles to students unable to physically visit the distribution sites. Currently, 71 children are signed up for food delivery.
To sign up for delivery services, contact Leflet at email@example.com or 830-798-3654.
The Summer Food Service Program also helps the district identify students experiencing homelessness, Leflet said.
In the 2020-21 school year, 97 students within the district were identified as homeless. Twenty of these students were unaccompanied youth, separated from their parents or guardians. While these are the reported numbers, Leflet believes the real number of students experiencing homelessness within the district is about 120.
Within the school district, homelessness is defined as students “who lack a fixed, adequate, and regular nighttime residence,” Leflet explained. This includes those living in homeless shelters, hotels or motels, cars, and campgrounds as well as students who are “doubled up” with another family because of financial issues.
“You say ‘homeless,’ and people’s minds automatically go to people in Austin standing on the corner with their hands out, but it’s really not,” said Kevin Naumann, executive director of the Highland Lakes Crisis Network and president of the MFISD school board. “These kids, their families are trying to make it.”
Students and families living in these conditions qualify for special resources through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Available services include access to district laundry facilities and showers as well as out-of-district transportation for students who become homeless during the school year.
Leflet also distributes donations made by private donors, such as gift cards and bags full of personal hygiene products and other necessities.
Students who qualify for McKinney-Vento resources are often identified through residence surveys conducted at the beginning of each year. However, families are sometimes slow to identify themselves because they are afraid of unwanted legal action, Leflet said.
“We know we have children living in storage units,” Leflet said. “The families will not give us enough information for us to identify who they really are because there’s a perception that they think we have to report to the government about their status, and that’s not the case. The homeless information is some of the most protected information in the school district.”
If you believe you or someone you know within the Marble Falls school district qualifies for McKinney-Vento aid, contact Leflet at 830-798-3654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those in the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District can contact McKinney-Vento liaison Kelli McCord at 512-756-2124 or email@example.com.
While MFISD is working to address the needs of its most vulnerable students, Leflet believes more opportunities exist to provide necessary services.
“Even though it sounds like we’re doing a lot, we all acknowledge there’s so much more we can do,” she said.