Yesterday, the New York Times published an article by Sam Dillon, discussing huge increases in the number of children nationwide who are receiving free or reduce-price school lunches since many of their parents have recently lost their jobs or homes. According to the article, the number of students receiving subsidized lunches was at 18 million in the 2006-2007 school year and peaked at 21 million last year. Fiscal year 2010 saw 1.3 million additional children eligible for free lunches, the largest increase in program participation since 1972.
Statistics from program enrollment make it clear that families in both urban and suburban areas are suffering financially due to the economic crisis. Many of the children who have recently enrolled in the program are from formerly middle-income families living in suburban neighborhoods, while urban school districts have been dominated by children who's families are poor enough to qualify for free lunches for years. Some urban school districts even provide free breakfast to students. Now, many schools have seen fit to provide dinner to children for fear that they might go to bed hungry.