LITTLE ROCK, AR - From fewer calories to a higher cost, school lunches in Arkansas are changing and at PCSSD, so is the policy.
"Now with only three charges, if you don't pay it then the whole rest of the day you kind of just go hungry and then you think about it constantly so it's kind of hard to concentrate," said 7th grader Jordyn Major.
The district is cutting back on school lunch charges, allowing elementary and middle school students up to three charges while high schoolers aren't allowed any. If you're out of charges and forget your lunch money, you're not eating that day.
"You're just constantly thinking, 'Oh my gosh I'm so hungry, I wish I would have remembered or gotten lunch,'" said Major.
"It would be really hard to focus with a rumbly tummy," said 7th grader, Justus Tate.
Parents still owe the district $90,000 dollars from last school year when students were allowed to rack up as many charges as they needed. One week into this school year and the patterns are still the same.
"Unfortunately, we have students who had already charged their three meals by the second day," said Superintendent Dr. Jerry Guess. "They charged breakfast, lunch and breakfast the next morning."
Last year, more than 50% of students in the district qualified for free and reduced lunch. This year, district employees expect that number to go up, partially due to the new charge policy. That's more than 6,000 lunches a day, or $15,000 dollars, that could be taken care of with government funding to help both the district and hungry students.
"We certainly don't want our students to go hungry, but we have a responsibility to the tax payers also, to have a fiscally sound program," said Dr. Guess.
Rumbly tummy, or not. Students suggest leave a couple extra dollars in your locker or, better yet, have your parents pay online so it's one less thing to have to remember in the morning. To pay online and to download a free and reduced lunch form, visithttps://www01.mypaymentsplus.com/Default.aspx
For a free and reduced lunch form, call the Pulaski County Special School District Nutrition Services Office at 501.490.5800.
Many school districts don't even have an option to charge available to students. PCSSD is the only school district we could confirm in central Arkansas with a charge policy in place.