SUWANEE -- Members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education learned Thursday that more than half of students in the district continue to qualify for free or reduced lunch and breakfast.
At about 56 percent during the current school year, the number has steadily increased from about 40 percent during the 2007-08 school year.
According to a staff report, from July 1-Nov. 30, 2012, more than 56,000 free and reduced meal applications were processed, and 19 employees worked more than 7,000 hours to keep up with the increases in students who qualified.
District Spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that the "changes in the percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch really speak to changes in our community."
Added Roach: "The economic downturn has hit Gwinnett families hard. As a result, Gwinnett has become much more diverse socioeconomically. We know that for many of our students the meals they receive at school may be the only meal they eat during the day. Our School Nutrition Program does an excellent job of serving our students so that they are ready to learn."
According to the GCPS website, full-priced breakfast is $1.25, while lunch costs $2.
Some children may qualify for free meals or for reduced-price meals, which cost $.30 for breakfast and $.40 for lunch.
To apply for free and reduced lunches, visit www.gwinnett.k12.ga.us, scroll down to the "Favorite Resources" section and click on "Free & Reduced Lunch Online Application."
To find out if your family qualifies, visit www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/notices/iegs/iegs.htm.