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More students getting school-lunch help

Posted September 1, 2009
Updated October 12, 2011

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— The number of students statewide receiving free or reduced-price lunches jumped 16.5 percent over the past year, with more than 46,000 enrolled in the program as of Aug. 31.

Wake County alone has processed about 500 applications a day over the past month from families applying for the first time, as well as those wanting to renew their benefits, said Marilyn Moody, director of the Wake County Public School System's Nutrition Services.

More students getting free, reduced lunches More students getting free, reduced lunches

"Our number is a reflection of the economy, and we have more and more parents coming into our office saying, 'I don't know a thing about your program. I've never needed your benefit, but I'm unemployed. I've been laid off, and I need help,’" Moody said.

Jacqueline Ward, who has been looking for a job since November, registered her children for the first time this year.

"My thoughts were, 'God, I hope I get this, because it's going to be a problem or a hassle to make sure they have breakfast and lunch,'" she said.

Under the program, students who qualify either get their meals free or pay 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch.

So far, more than 6,000 additional students will get free or reduced meals this year in Wake County. Part of the reason that number is so high, officials say, is that more of those students' families are qualifying for food stamps.

"We have an increase of about 20,000 individuals (statewide) every month that are added to the food nutrition rolls," said Dean Simpson, chief of the state Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Social Services Economic and Family Services Section .

To be eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, a family must make no more than 185 percent of the poverty level. That would mean, for example, a family of four having an income of about $40,000 or less.

For food stamps, a family income cannot be more than 130 percent of the poverty level

38 Comments

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  • Fed-up29 Sep 2, 2009

    they should not be giving free lunches or reduced if they are throwing them away.....that aside when i was in highschool people with free and reduced lunches would use their money to buy fries and burgers which is insane....if these parents shopped wisely we wouldn't need to foot the bill......take a look at the majority of the people using the program any way...they are "anchor babies" usually. This program along with Headstarts should be done away with....no american is benefiting just illegals.....lets start making the american life harder for them so they get out!

  • Jack Flash Sep 2, 2009

    "Some schools are at 40% PLUS on this program?

    Give me a break! That's abuse of the system. How about you stand outside such schools and gauge whether 4 out of 10 seem disadvantaged to you. I see Cell Phones, and iPods and VERY stylish clothing and jewelry."
    Where do you find time to stand around outside these 40%+ schools you research between posting here?

  • Jack Flash Sep 2, 2009

    "You say WHY should you refute it?
    Because you think the program is mainly to feed POOR children."
    Really? I do? Gosh, right after you explain how you know that will you also tell me whether my cousin stole my old Stretch Armstrong doll back when we were kids or if that stray dog really did run off with it like he said?

  • MakoII Sep 2, 2009

    jackflash123,

    Look, I'll make it simple for you:

    I stated a FACT. A KNOWN, VERIFIABLE, EASY TO FIND: FACT.

    The SOURCE is immaterial. The speaker/writer is immaterial.

    REFUTE THE FACT.

    Instead of admitting facts, you attack the source or speaker.

    Fact: Free School Lunch Program was created in 1946
    Fact: Created under Harry Truman's Presidency (buck stops here guy)
    FACT: FOR THE PURPOSE of creating a FARM SUBSIDY.

    Not for disadvantaged children. That was NOT the main intention.

    Look to your web, history books, or memory if your that old, it's fact.

    You say WHY should you refute it?

    Because you think the program is mainly to feed POOR children.

    I pointed out it's MAINLY to provide a farming subsidy.

    Play semantics if you will, but you are wrong, can't refute the FACT, and change the subject to avoid admitting the truth.

  • whatusay Sep 2, 2009

    ss67... I am 62. My father worked, my mom didn't. I am the oldest of 4 kids. We had no welfare from a socialist government like we have today. Our government is socializing those who will follow them (for the votes to keep them in office and in control). You are probably much to young to know what freedom and independence is because government has taken over so many parts of our lives. Can you name one thing that is not taxed today? And, over 95% of what is being taxed today was not taxed 40 years ago. Your government wants 60% of what you make so them can give it to those who can not or will not work (for their votes).

  • Da Toy Maker Sep 2, 2009

    I personally just count our blessing and not having to apply for the Free/Reduced meals for my school age child.

    We could debate the merit of the program all day long but it doesn't change the fact that more families are maing far less money nowadays than before.

    People, please count your blessings, good fortunes, hardworks, etc.

    God bless all.

  • SS67 Sep 2, 2009

    Wow "whatusay"! You must be old. I mean, you MUST be REALLY old according to your testimony. Everyone blabbing here should have paid better attention in school because y'all are short on your history.

  • mommy2threeboys Sep 2, 2009

    Arguing with a fool proves there are two. ~Doris M. Smith~

  • JaredsMom Sep 2, 2009

    whatusay, you hit the nail on the head! I couldn't have said it better myself.

  • whatusay Sep 2, 2009

    mpheels says..." do you realize exactly how little money food stamps and WIC provide for food? The $ a family gets for food assistance is based on the assumption that their children will get lunch and breakfast at school."

    mpheels....I grew up dirt poor, before welfare, before people thought it was the government's responsibility to feed you. If you didn't work your children didn't eat. The school system did not feed any kids...none. Why do you believe it is the responsibility of the government (tax payers) to take care of your needs....GET OUT AND WORK OR STARVE. MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF. STOP DEMANDING GOVERNMENT SUPPORT. GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE ANSWER, never will be, never has been.

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