The number of free or reduced-price lunches on the rise - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

The number of free or reduced-price lunches on the rise


MARSHFIELD (WAOW) --  For many students, lunch time is a favorite time. Over the last decade the amount of free or reduced-price lunches are on the rise.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released a study that just over forty percent of students across the state qualify for a free lunch.  In Marshfield, that number has almost doubled in the past five years.


"The numbers are growing. They change every month," Stacey Weichelt, Food Service Director said.

At Grant Elementary School, nearly forty percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

"We encourage parents to apply for free or reduced price meals," said Kelvin Kling, Grant Elementary School Principal.

Food service leaders say the economy is a big reason numbers are up.  But, there are other factors.

"Parents are realizing it is confidential and are more comfortable accepting the help," Weichelt said.

School leaders say confidentiality is a must.

"When students go through the lunch line nobody knows if they qualify. It is very confidential. It doesn't flash red for free of reduced," Kling said.

To qualify for the program, families must meet certain requirements.  For example, a family of four making less than $30,000 a year qualifies for free meals.  A same size family making no more than $41,000 would qualify for reduced-price meals.

The program is paid for by the state and federal funding for the district.  School officials say it benefits a lot of students.

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