Today I heard that more than 57% of Georgia’s kids are eligible for free and reduced lunches in public schools. According to statistics on the StateMaster website, Georgia places fifth in the nation in number of eligible kids. While there has been a decrease in students lined up for the reduced lunch (137,133 last year to 111,793 this year), the number of kids eligible for free lunch has soared, increasing by more than 52,000 kids in just one year (up to 850,248 from 797,772). Of those eligible, about 76% enroll.

Think about the need here, and then extrapolate the need for some of those same kids on evenings and weekends, not to mention over the summer, where there may be few food programs to help them and their families. Think about how hard it is to concentrate on school work when your stomach is growling, or think about how much of the fresher, healthier food tends to be more expensive. Also think about how important it is to advocate on behalf of healthy school lunches for all kids, and especially for those for whom it may be their only meal.

(Note: Most of the free and reduced lunch funding comes from the federal level, with the rest made up by state and local dollars.  To qualify for reduced-price lunches, a family of four must make no more than $40,793. For free lunches, the income threshold is $28,665.)

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