Students’ unpaid meals an issue for the Bossier Schools

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Unpaid meals for students is an issue for the Bossier Schools child nutrition department, said its supervisor Tuesday.

The presentation was part of a special town hall meeting hosted by the Bossier Parish School Board to discuss transportation, nutrition, and planning and construction.

Karla Horton, supervisor of child nutrition, said the main challenges faced by her department are retaining part-time employees, absences, regulatory compliance and meal debts.

“(Meal debt) is an ongoing problem,” Horton said. “From Aug. 18 to now the meal debt charges are $67,377. Last year at this time it was $50,000. We are doing everything that we can.”

Karla Horton, supervisor of child nutrition, discusses her department during a special town hall meeting held Tuesday at the Bossier Instructional Center. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

She added that the department sends owe letters, or “blue slips,” home twice a month, along with regular reminder texts and phone calls about the debt, but only sees minimal success.

“A lot of people have the misconception that you don’t have to pay your lunch bills, but it is not an option. Those bills need to be paid,” Horton said.

She went on to note her department’s 250 employees serve breakfast and lunch at 34 locations in Bossier. She said this school year has seen an increase of 500 more meals per day.

“We serve about 15,000 prepared meals a day,” said Horton. “That’s 4,000 meals for breakfast and 11,000 for lunch. Monthly we serve between 250,000 – 290,000 meals. Annually it can be between 2.2 – 2.6 million meals.”

The school board hosted the town hall meeting at the Bossier Instructional Center on Airline Drive in Bossier City to give the community insight into the inner workings of K-12 public education and day-to-day challenges of the departments featured.