Free, Discount Lunches Surge in Montgomery Co. | NBC4 Washington

Free, Discount Lunches Surge in Montgomery Co.

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    Montgomery County Public Schools dished out a record of meals to students during the two-month summer vacation. (Published Friday, Aug. 22, 2014)

    Montgomery County Public Schools dished out a record of meals to students during the two-month summer vacation.

    A review of district records by the News4 I-Team shows fast-rising demand for free and discount meals in the county, including during the summer months.

    District officials attribute the increase to soaring enrollments, including a spike in low-income students who are often unable to find food at home.

    Montgomery County Public Schools food services reports, obtained in a records request by the I-Team, show the number of school lunches served during summer months has doubled since 2007.

    Nearly a quarter of a million lunches were served between late June and Aug. 22, 2014.

    “Our goal is to make sure these students have access to healthy food,”Marla Caplon, the district’s food services director said.  

    Public schools are required by the federal government to offer discounted or free meals, which include fruits or vegetables, to students from families with economic need. 

    A district spokesman attributes the increasing demand for summer meals to a growing population of needy students, including an influx of international students and unaccompanied immigrant minors.

    That increase of lower-income students has also created a need for expanded after-school and community programs operated or overseen by the district.

    State and federal subsidies offset the cost of school meals. An I-Team review of public school food programs show local schools receive about $3.00 in government reimbursements for each free meal it serves.

    Summer20072008200920102011201220132014
    #  Days5050495150505050
    Sites79105120108104115115131
    Breakfasts103,367122,522136,682121,799112,25582,138177,067167,743
    Lunches134,856166,389196,793163,794155,822131,440253,198251,273
    Suppers      499778
    Total Meals238,223288,911333,475285,593268,031213,678430,764419,794