Saved by the Lunch Bell: As Economy Sinks, School Nutrition Program Participation Rises

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School Nutrition Association

Increased participation in the national school lunch and breakfast programs can be added to the mounting evidence of how the economic fallout is affecting American families.

The School Nutrition Association’s analysis shows that a majority of the 137 U.S. school districts surveyed reported increased participation in free and reduced-price meal services for the 2008-09 school year, compared with the previous school year. Overall participation increased 2.5 percent, accounting for 425,000 more meals than last year.

Increases in the number of youths qualifying for the programs played a key role in the higher participation, as nearly 80 percent of the school districts showed an increase from the previous school year in qualified students. The report also cites “more families trying to save money” as one of the reasons for the spike in youths taking advantage of the services. This analysis updates an association report from last September about the rising costs facing school nutrition programs. The association is a national nonprofit professional organization. Free, 14 pages. (703) 739-3900, Files/School_Nutrition/101_News/ MediaCenter/PressReleases/Press_ Release_Articles/Press_Releases/ SavedbytheLunchBell.pdf.