For some kids, it's an everyday routine. They grab their lunch thermos or lunch bag and head out the door. But nearly 70-percent of
students go to school empty-handed. Fort Wayne
"It certainly has increased especially in the last few years” say Fort Wayne Community Schools Spokesperson Krista Stockman.
The number of
students receiving a free or reduced-priced lunch continues to rise. In 2000 it was 40-percent. In 2005 it was more than half. But today it's up to 68-percent. Fort Wayne
"We don't expect it to stop anytime soon” says Stockman.
The meal program is federally-funded and income-based.
"Typically we see our elementary school numbers higher than our middle school and high school numbers” says Stockman.
There are also many students that may qualify for the program but don't take advantage of it.
"There may be at some point, maybe students don't want their parents filling it out, maybe they're embarrassed” says Stockman.
If that's the case, some students might just be left in a 'sticky situation.'
"If students come and they don't have a lunch or don't have money there are a number of things that could happen. We will provide elementary students with a peanut and jelly and jelly bar and milk for free. The middle school, it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk” Stockman says.
The district encourages middle and high school students to borrow money from friends--but many times teachers step in to help.
"I know a lot of teachers give students money for lunch” says Stockman.
At some schools principals will foot the bill.
"Students essentially charge for a meal and it goes on to the principal’s account and the principals pay for it at the end of the year” says Stockman.
At several schools, over 90-percent participate in the lunch program. As a result, some schools just end up offering free meals to all kids to eliminate the hassle of paperwork.
“A lot of our teachers and principals, they help students in alot of ways. They buy coats, they buy clothes, they buy mittens, they buy socks and sometimes they buy food” says Stockman.
For information on the free and reduced-lunch program head to http://www.fortwayneschools.org/index.php