Record 20M US Kids Get Free Lunch

Many are first-timers to state program
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 11, 2009 12:13 PM CDT
Enrollment in the federal school lunch program reached an all-time high in February.   (Shutter stock)

(Newser) – It’s good there is such a thing as a free lunch, since more US students than ever need one. Nearly 20 million kids got a free or reduced-price school lunch in February, overwhelming districts that also face rising food costs. Nationwide enrollment in the government-subsidized program was up 6.3% from last year, USA Today reports.

Some states are seeing much higher increases. Enrollment is up 17% in California, and more than 10% in Arizona, New Jersey, Utah, and Vermont. Many new enrollees are joining for the first time. March data seems to suggest a slight drop, but a congressman warns that Washington needs to bump funding for the program if figures hold steady. (Read more recession stories.)