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Record Number of California Students Turn to Meal Programs

A record number of California children are now getting free and reduced priced breakfasts and lunches at public schools.  That's according to State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell.  He says more than three-point-one million school children are receiving the meals.

That's just over half the students enrolled.  O'Connell says the increase is a direct result of the poor economy-and families turning to school meal programs.
O'Connell: Just last year, we served in California 28 million more meals in the school year of 07-08 than  the preceding year alone. That's four times the increase that we normally experience on a year to year basis.

The federal government provides the lion's share of the funding-with the state picking up a smaller share of the cost.  O'Connell says more students getting the meals resulted in state funds running out. He anticipates running out of money again for the program this year. 

O'Connell plans to ask the Governor and legislature for another $31 million to pay for the increased costs.

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