Enrollment in free/reduced school lunches rises in Southwest North DakotaThe number of students eligible for free or reduced priced school lunches has increased in southwest North Dakota over the past two years.
The number of students eligible for free or reduced priced school lunches has increased in southwest North Dakota over the past two years.
At Heart River Elementary 54 percent of students were eligible for the federal program last school year and 50 percent were eligible in 2008-2009.
“We had nearly 100 more elementary kids enrolled in our schools last year than we had the year before,” said Vince Reep, Dickinson Public Schools assistant superintendent.
A typical Dickinson Public Schools meal consists of 2 ounces of protein, two servings fruits and/or vegetables, one grain serving, and 8 ounces of milk and costs between $1.75 and $2.75, depending on what grade the child is in, said Doug Sullivan, superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools.
“Free or reduced priced meals are a valuable service to children who may not otherwise be able to eat,” Sullivan said.
To be eligible for a free meal children’s families’ incomes have to be at or below 130 percent of the poverty level, according to the United States Department of Agriculture web site.
To be eligible for reduced priced meals (costing the family 40 cents per meal) the children’s families must have incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level, according to the USDA web site.
Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty are not eligible, but are still subsidized to some extent, according to the USDA web site.
The poverty guidelines for 2009 for the continental United States ranged from a yearly income of $14,570 for a two-person family to $37,010 for families of eight. Families of more than eight add $3,740 for each additional member, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site.
Reduced price lunches cost taxpayers between $1.30 and $2.35.
Free and Reduced Price Meals is a federal program administered through the Department of Public Instruction.
Taxpayers foot the bill for those in the program, which children whose families meet certain income eligibility requirements receive free or reduced priced lunches if they are enrolled in the school lunch program.
“The way the program works is that schools get reimbursed for reduced price meals by the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Public Instruction gets the money to reimburse the schools from the USDA who gets its money from appropriations received from congress and congress gets its money from taxpayers,” said Deb Egeland, School Nutrition Program manager.