Number of Students Served Continuing to Rise
The first week of the New Year has yet to end, snowy and blustery, yet the number of school children BBP is serving is about to rise by another 10, to 205. Of these children, 169 are in the Brookings Public Schools and 36 are in Brookings Head Start.
These numbers are impressive, especially considering that in August, 2009, BBP only had enough funds to serve 40 students. Still, BBP estimates that it is assisting merely 27% of the public school children in need of weekend food assistance.
This estimate is based on the number of students currently receiving free or reduced-lunch cafeteria meals: 620 students, as of December. While a child needn't be enrolled in the federally-funded free/reduced lunch program to participate in BBP, involvement in that program is a strong indicator of need.
More than one in every five public school students (22% of 2804 children) is currently receiving free or reduced lunches. This percentage remains unchanged from the end of last school year. However, real numbers have risen, from 598 children in May, 2009, to 620 now, with nearly five months still remaining in the school year.
It's also important to recognize that more students who are enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program are receiving free rather than reduced-price cafeterial meals this year:
- 167 students (27%) are now receiving reduced-price lunches, down from 195 (around 32%) last May, while....
- 453 students (73%) are now receiving free lunches, up from 403 (67%) last May.
These numbers would seem to indicate deepening need during tough economic times.
Obviously BBP, with the help of the Brookings community, has much work remaining to do.