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More Students Signing Up for Free Lunch

Audio

Aired 4/29/09

Signs of the times are showing up in lunchrooms at San Diego schools. At one elementary school, enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program has increased dramatically. Joanne Faryon tells us why.

Signs of the times are showing up in lunchrooms at San Diego schools. At one elementary school, enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program has increased dramatically. Joanne Faryon tells us why.

On this day, at Field Elementary school in Clairemont, students were dismissed early. They could have gone home, but instead most stayed to eat.

Robin Stern is their principal."They're hungry, this is a good meal, its good its here and before they leave to go home parents come a little bit later to allow the children time to eat," she says.

Last year, 53 percent of the students here were eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. This year 79 percent are enrolled. That means the majority of the parents in this working class neighborhood are living below or just hovering above the federal poverty line.

Gary Petal is head of food services with the San Diego School district.

He says parents are coming forward to apply for the program because many have lost jobs, even homes, and they quite literally are running out of food.

"They're put against the wall saying that if my children don't eat breakfast and lunch five days a week, I might not be able to afford to send them to school with food I might not be able to serve them dinner. We don't know what they're eating at night," Petal says.

Joanne Faryon , KPBS News.

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