LA CROSSE (WEAU) - For the 8th consecutive year student eligibility for free or reduced price school meals has increased in Wisconsin.
There are more than 7 thousand students who qualify for the program this year compared to last year.
More than 100 school districts have 50% or more eligible.
In La Crosse County the number of students who qualify for the program has been steadily increasing.
“We were at 25% two years ago, 28 % last year, and we’re at 29 % this year," said School Nutrition Director, Kerry Johnson.
In La Crosse,
"Our information shows 46%. That's up a percent from last year," said Executive Director of Business Services, Janet Rosseter.
It’s believed the economy is to blame for the rising numbers.
“I think it depends on the work situation for the family. Maybe somebody got laid off, or their hours reduced,” said Rosseter.
Schools have also seen an increase in students taking hot lunch verses other options.
“Parents are encouraging their students to eat the full reimbursable meal which is a more nutritious meal,” said Johnson.
Schools receive a fixed amount for each free or reduced meal they give out.
“School districts will receive 2.77 for each free meal that’s served, and 2.37 or each reduced meal.”