LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Students in Calcasieu Parish can expect to see an improvement in the district's free and reduced lunch program this school year.
This year the application process will run much faster through a new scanning process.
School administrators will scan the applications and immediately tell whether or not the applicants are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
"This is one method that's going to have a lot more accountability than it's had in the past," said Gary Anderson, Asst. Superintendent for Calcasieu Parish Schools.
Out of 33,000 meals served in Calcasieu Parish on a daily basis, 69.3% of those are free and reduced while 30.7% of those are paying students.
While a huge percentage qualify for the program, administrators are asking for some cooperation from the parents to help the new system run smoothly.
"Some of the problems have been that free and reduced forms were turned in way at the end of September," said Anderson. "While they were approved to receive free lunches, parents thought they wouldn't have to go back and pay for some of these meals."
When meals go unpaid it not only hurts the student's record, but it also hurts the school's budget.
"Sixty-six percent of all the money that's owed to us is by students who are paying students," said Anderson.
This is why school administrators are urging parents to apply as soon as their child receives the form on the first day of school.
"Every child who is eligible and does not apply then we lose money," said Anderson. "We want to make sure every child who is eligible gets to benefit from the program."
The deadline to apply for the free and reduced lunch program is September 1st.
If an application is turned in after that date, the students will have to pay for the meals they have eaten up to that point.