Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Free, reduced lunches on the rise at schools

By The Herald Staff | 11/10/2009

Free and reduced lunch numbers are the highest Superintendent Denise O’Dea has seen in the Wellsville School District.

“When I came to Wellsville in 1997, the free lunch rate was roughly 12 percent,” she said, adding that this year the percentage is about 30 percent.

Free and reduced lunch numbers are the highest Superintendent Denise O’Dea has seen in the Wellsville School District.

“When I came to Wellsville in 1997, the free lunch rate was roughly 12 percent,” she said, adding that this year the percentage is about 30 percent.

And Wellsville is not alone. All Franklin County schools report an increase in students qualifying for free and reduced lunches.

But the National School Lunch Act isn’t new.

It dates to the 1930s, when school lunch programs started receiving federal loans and surpluses.

Since its creation, the act has undergone many changes and revisions but continues to help provide affordable, or free, lunches for struggling families.

What’s different this year is the increases schools have experienced, superintendents said. And having districts reach the 40-percent mark of students on free and reduced lunches can create additional funding opportunities for the districts, they said.

“I think definitely the economy plays a big role in what we’re seeing with the number of students that are on free and reduced lunches,” Ottawa Superintendent Dean Katt has said. “It’s getting tough for everybody.”

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