Free and Reduced Lunch Rates on the Rise Statewide
COLUMBIA - Free and reduced lunch rates in Missouri have spiked over the past 5 years.
Statewide, the participation rate increased by seven percent since 2006. This growth is in line with a national trend most people working in food and nutrition services attribute to the economic downturn.
This steady increase has not gone unnoticed by the USDA, the state of Missouri, or the school districts and faculty.
The Moberly Public Schools Superintendent Gena McCluskey said an increased free and reduced lunch rate means more than just feeding students.
"We're always cognizant of that demographic when we make decisions," McCluskey said. "We want to make sure we keep everything we do within the range of what our parents and our students can participate in."
According to Jean Daniel, a representative of the Food and Nutrition Services branch of the USDA, which runs the federally funded free and reduced lunch program, there has been an increase in participation, specifically in the number of students qualifying for the free lunch component.
In order to qualify for this, students must come from homes that are 130 percent at or below the poverty rate.
Administrators across the state agreed, with more students coming from homes at the poverty level, ensuring they are coming to school and focusing on learning becomes a priority.
"The reason we get more funding for free and reduced lunch is because we have to have more resources to provide the education for those children," said Jason Hoffman, Jefferson City Public Schools CFO.
To find out what the numbers look like for your school district, click here.