What Parents Need To Know About Free & Reduced School Meals
August 11, 2011



The Houston Independent School District announces the policy for free and reduced-price meals served under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program for the 2011-2012 school year.  Each school has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.


The Houston Independent School District Schools offer a choice of healthy meals each school day.  Breakfast is free; lunch costs $2.25 in elementary and $2.25 in secondary.  Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced-price meals.  The reduced price is $.40 for lunch.  All meals served must meet nutrition standards as established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  If a child has a disability, as determined by a doctor, and the disability prevents the child from eating the regular school meal, the school will make substitutions prescribed by the doctor.  If a substitution is needed, there will be no extra charge for the meal.  Please note, however, that the school is not required to make a substitution for a food allergy, unless it meets the definition of disability.  Please call the school for further information.


Parents can prepay for their child’s lunch by going to www.parentonline.net.


Children from families whose income is at or below the level shown on the following scale are eligible for either free or reduced-price meals:












Reduced Price


Reduced Price


Reduced Price





















































































For each additional family member add:





+ $4,966

+ $7,067

+ $414

+ $589

+ $96



Your children can get free school meals if you get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).


DIRECT CERTIFICATION FOR FREE MEALS:          Many students have been approved for free meals, for the school year 2011-2012, based on information provided by the Texas Department of Human Services.  The parents of these students were sent HISD Direct Certification Notices by U.S. Mail.  These parents are not to fill out or return a school lunch application for the child listed on the notification letter.  Direct Certified students are eligible for free meals.

 How do I get free or reduced-price school meals for my children?         You must complete the Application for Free and Reduced-price Meals Form and return it to the school.

 Parents can complete an online application by going to www.mealapps.houstonisd.org.

 ¨      Households getting SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or TANF.  You only have to include your children’s names and eligibility group numbers, and an adult household member must sign the form.

¨      Households that do not get SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or TANF.  If you do not have an Eligibility Group Number, you must include the names of all household members, the amount of income each person received last month and where the income came from.  An adult household member must sign the form and include his or her social security number, or indicate that he or she has no social security number.

¨      Households with a foster child. Foster children who are the legal responsibility of the state agency or court are eligible for free meal benefits regardless of the income of the household with whom they reside.

 Will the form be verified?  Your eligibility may be checked at any time during the school year.  School officials may ask you to send written evidence that shows that your children should get free or reduced-price school meals. 

Can I appeal the school’s decision?  You can talk to school officials if you do not agree with the school’s decision on your form.  You also may ask for a fair hearing by calling or writing to: Manager Nutrition Services, HISD/ARAMARK Food Services, 6801 Bennington St. Houston, Texas 77028, (Phone: 713-491-5730).

 Will my information be kept confidential?  We will use the information on your form to decide if your children should get free or reduced-price meals.  We may inform officials with other child nutrition, health and education programs of the information on your form to determine benefits for those programs or for funding and/or evaluation purposes.


Can I apply for free and reduced-price meals later?  You may apply for free and reduced-price meals at any time during the school year.  If you are not eligible now but have a change, like a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, become unemployed or get SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or TANF, complete another form then. 

We will let you know if you are approved or denied.

 Non-discrimination Statement:  This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly.  In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Students Can Win a Car with HISD’s “Cool to be Smart” Program
April 13, 2011

(From HISD) 

April 13, 2011 – HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry B. Grier will meet with student journalists to talk about the “Cool to be Smart” recognition program, designed to inspire more students to participate in International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP) courses by giving away a car and other incentives. The student reporters will help carry the word back to their campuses.

            A car similar to the one to be given away will be displayed during an announcement of the “Cool to be Smart” program at Chavez High School. “We want all our students who graduate from HISD to take rigorous courses such as AP or IB and be better prepared for college,” Dr. Grier said.  “By giving incentives, we want to encourage our students to work hard in school and continue with a higher education. We want it to be cool to be smart at HISD.”

            Dr. Grier said he wanted to bring that message straight to students himself, so he is asking student journalists from every HISD high school to attend Thursday’s event.

The “Cool to Be Smart” program also provides incentives such as college scholarships, laptop computers, and other prizes for students.  To be eligible for the drawing of the new car, students must be graduating seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on at least 5 AP exams, earned a 4 or higher on at least 5 IB exams, or a combination of the two.  The upcoming AP/IB testing dates will take place at the end of April and during May, with the results known in the summer.

Texas Direct Auto will donate a car to a winning student during a special ceremony in August.

Students who have scored well enough to earn college credit on at least five AP or IB exams could enter college with the equivalent of more than one semester of credit under their belts.  Currently, more than 9,000 students are enrolled in advanced placement courses.  In the 2009-10 school year, student enrollment in AP courses increased by 8.3 percent to 8,789 and the number of AP exams administered increased by 43% to 16,556.   The number of AP exams earning a qualifying score increased by 27% from 2008-09 to 2009-10.  Next school year, at least 15 AP courses will be offered at every HISD high school. A new policy was also implemented this year at HISD with the expectation that all students who take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses also take the AP or IB exams — at no cost to those students. 

“HISD is vested in ensuring that students are recognized for their hard work on AP and IB exams.  We know that these courses are challenging and earning a qualifying score on the exams is an achievement,” said AP/IB School Improvement Officer Esti Arriaga.  “Texas Direct Auto has given us a wonderful opportunity to give a free car to one lucky and extraordinary student.  We hope that this will also motivate more students to not only participate in AP or IB, but to work hard to earn scores that could also earn them college credit.”

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.

For more information, visit the HISD Web site at www.houstonisd.org.

Four HISD Seniors Win National Achievement Scholarships
April 6, 2011


Program Recognizes Outstanding African-American Students Nationwide 




April 6, 2011 – Four HISD seniors are among 800African American students nationally who have won Achievement Scholarship awards through the National Achievement Scholarship Program. These national awards totaling more than $2 million dollars are financed by grants from about 30 corporations and professional associations and by National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Among the HISD winners are two Carnegie Vanguard High School seniors and two seniors who attend Lamar High School.

Carnegie Vanguard Senior Dicarlos Davis won a $2,500 scholarship underwritten by ExxonMobil. He plans to study engineering. Fellow Carnegie senior Elisabeth Massey, who plans to study medicine, won a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which also awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Lamar Senior Marcus Mitchell. He plans to study engineering. Another Lamar senior, Michael Tekie, won a scholarship form The Links, Inc., Houston Chapter. He plans to study engineering.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program is a privately financed academic competition established in 1964 specifically to honor scholastically talented Black American youth. More than 160,000 students entered the 2011 National Achievement Scholarship Program by requesting consideration when they took the 2009 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) as high school juniors. In September 2010, approximately 1,600 of the highest scorers were named semifinalists. To continue in the competition, semifinalists had to maintain a record of consistently high academic performance; be endorsed and recommended by an official of their high school; earn SAT scores that confirm their PSAT/NMSQT performance; and write an essay. From the Semifinalist pool, some 1,300 advanced to the finalist level, and all National Achievement Scholarship winners were selected from that group of outstanding students.


Bellaire Junior Aces the SAT Test
April 1, 2011

(News Release from HISD)


March 31, 2011 – On his very first attempt, Bellaire High School 11th Grader Daniel Yun earned a perfect score of 2400 on his SAT test. He got the top score of 800 in all three sections: mathematics, reading and writing. Yun said, “When I got the scores I thought that these must be the scores that are possible, but then I saw that they were my actual results. … I couldn’t believe it.”

Bellaire Principal Tim Salem said, “Daniel is a great student who really embraces the value of education. I am so pleased with his success and that of the other Bellaire students who have aced college entrance exams. It makes us all proud.”

Daniel takes International Baccalaureate (IB) Spanish and six other Advanced Placement (AP) and pre AP classes including Statistics, Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, English, U.S. History, and Computer Science.  He received a Scholastic Gold Key for writing this spring and a gold medal in the National Spanish exam. The 16-year-old is also a member of the Bellaire debate team. 

            Daniel’s good friend and fellow Bellaire student, Jeff Feng, got a perfect score on the ACT test last year. Another Bellaire student, Ruoxi Yu, got a perfect ACT score last summer. Daniel is the only Bellaire student to receive a perfect score so far this school year.

            This year for the first time, all HISD juniors will have the opportunity to take the SAT college entrance exam free of charge at their home campuses. HISD is only the third district in the country to do so. Typically, students have to register for the exam on their own and then take the SAT on a weekend at a specific testing site. The standard fee is $47. So far, 89 percent of HISD’s 11th graders have signed up to take the free exam. Each year 1.5 million students in the U.S. take the SAT test. Less than 300 of them earn a score of 2400.

 The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.

For more information, visit the HISD Web site at www.houstonisd.org.

HISD Students Selected as Presidential Scholar Candidates
February 15, 2011

Five HISD Students Named as U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidates 

February 15, 2011 – Five HISD seniors have been selected as U.S. Presidential Scholar candidates, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.  The students were identified for the academic component of the program based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or the ACT.

HISD’s Presidential Scholar nominees are Emma Breen, Walter Chang, Jeff Fang and Ruoxi Yu from Bellaire High School and Christina Fong from Carnegie Vanguard High School.

The five are among 2,600 candidates from the across the Unites States who must now submit a variety of application materials including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. In April, the Commission on Presidential Scholars will pick 500 semi-finalists. In May, the commission will review the semi-finalists and select up to 121 academic scholars and up to 20 arts scholars. These graduating seniors will be chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars. 

Scholars are chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in many areas including academic and artistic success, leadership, and involvement in school and the community. They represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order to recognize some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high-school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts.  

The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.

For more information, visit the HISD Web site at www.houstonisd.org.

HISD Students Pick Hot Toys For the Holidays
November 23, 2010

(HISD news release)

Longfellow Elementary’s Annual Toy Survey Uncovers What Kids Really Want

Silly Bandz, mini-skateboards, and gift cards top the list instead of expensive electronics

 November 23, 2010 – Concerned that the holidays can be a confusing, frustrating time for parents when it comes to buying gifts for kids, students at HISD’s Longfellow Elementary held a news conference on Tuesday, November 23 to announce this year’s most-wanted holiday gifts.

Every year, the fifth-graders at Longfellow divide into teams and hit the playground, hallways, and lunchroom to survey their classmates on the “hot toys” for the holiday season.  The students conduct the surveys themselves, record the data, and use data analysis and math skills to tally the results and release their top ten list to the media. 

This year, the students took into account the recent economy and made a point to not to include any expensive electronics, high-tech items, or video gaming systems that have made their list in past years. Instead their focus was on finding toys that are both interesting to kids and priced under $50. And the winners for 2010 are:


10        Hot Wheels items

9          (TIE) Lego sets and Loopz music memory game

8          Arts and crafts sets (like jewelry making kits and models)

7          Paper Jamz Guitar

6          Nerf-n-Strike dart launcher

5          Watches and jewelry

4          Spy Gear items

3          Gift cards

2          Tech Decks mini-skateboard sets

1          Silly Bandz


No adults were allowed to speak at today’s press conference. Instead, fifth graders Sh’mar Evans, Lily Gastineau, Elise Gutierrez, Cassandra Lutz, Helena Marlowe, and Bryon Moreno released their findings and addressed members of the local print and television media. Representatives from Target brought examples of all the top toys to display at the press conference and afterwards they generously donated them to the school.

Several of the top items made the hot toy list last year as well. Those include gift cards, watches and jewelry, and Lego sets. New to the list this year are the extremely popular Silly Bandz which are rubber band bracelets that come in different shapes and characters.

“If you are a parent and in doubt about what to get your child for the holidays, Silly Bandz are the way to go,” said Helena Marlowe. “Boys and girls like them and they are really inexpensive. If I was a parent, I’d fill my child’s stocking with Silly Bandz.”

“Get things on sale and take advantage of Black Friday,” advised Sh’mar Evans. “Get out there and get the hot items, because before you know it, they might be gone.”


The Houston Independent School District is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh-largest in the United States with 298 schools and more than 200,000 students. The 301-square-mile district is one of the largest employers in the Houston metropolitan area with nearly 30,000 employees.

For more information, visit the HISD Web site at www.houstonisd.org.

HISD Scholarship Fair to Help Students
October 14, 2010

(News Release) 

Find Options to Pay for College 

October 14, 2010 – HISD juniors and seniors and their parents are invited to attend HISD’s First Annual Scholarship Fair to learn about options available to pay for college.

            The scholarship fair will take place from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 21, in the board auditorium at the Hattie Mae Educational Support Center (4400 West 18th Street, 77092).

This event will provide first-hand information on various scholarship opportunities,” said HISD College, Career & Counseling Manager June Giddings.  “Students and parents will be able to interact directly with the scholarship providers.”

            Students will have the opportunity to learn how to prepare, search and apply for scholarships.  Also, students and parents will be able to attend informative workshops, including how to search for scholarships and avoid scammers as well as hearing from judging members about common mistakes applicants make in their applications and essays. 

            “Many of our students cannot afford to pay for postsecondary education and this discourages them from continuing their education after high school because of the financial burden they would place on their families,” said HISD College Access Coordinator Alma Webber.  “But, if students and their parents are fully aware of the financial opportunities available to them for college, this will give them hope to follow their dreams.”

            For more information about the Scholarship Fair, parents and students can contact the HISD Department of College, Career and Counseling at 713-556-7196.