New Report Finds More Indiana Students Using Free, Reduced Lunch Program
Indiana officials say that not only is the free or reduced lunch program on a serious upswing across the state, but 41 percent of all public school students receive it – about 4 in 10.
Interestingly, Bill Stanczykiewicz of the Indiana Youth Institute says the 2013 Kids Count report indicating 41 percent – up 27 percent since 2004 - should actually be higher. "We know that not all eligible students enroll," he said. "Either they are not aware of the program or - especially as they get older - they feel some sort of embarrassment or stigma attached to this.
So, why are nearly half of Indiana’s public school students in need of the free or reduced lunch program? Well, unfortunately, child poverty has been on the rise for over the past decade. "In the year 2000, child poverty in Indiana was about ten-percent. Now, it's about 25-percent," said Stanczykiewicz. The federal poverty level for a family of four is just under $24,000.
Stanczykiewicz adds that it will take a lot of economic growth to substantially diminish the current level of poverty here in Indiana.