Number of students eligible for free and reduced lunch increases in WI

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is tough to keep up with these volunteers from Bethesda Lutheran in Eau Claire. On Wednesday, they were packing a lot of food into a lot of boxes that soon will make a big difference for a lot of families.

The food will be given to students in local districts who did not have access to nutritious meals over the weekend.

And now, we are getting a better idea of just how many families in our city and state may have trouble getting food on the table.

New numbers released show the number of eligible students for free and reduced lunch at schools in Wisconsin is about 43%. That is about a .5% increase from last year.

In Eau Claire, the number has held steady since about 2011 at 40%. In 2009, it was 33%.

"We have seen increases as the economy gets worse; we see more families apply for free and reduced meals," said Sue Brown, Food and Nutrition Director for the Eau Claire Area School District.

She says the numbers vary by school. At Longfellow Elementary, the number of eligible free and reduced students is 77%. At Memorial High School, it's 24%.

Emily Moore, Executive Director of Feed My People Food Bank, does not need to see numbers to know there are families that need help.

"Great need for the food," she said.

She is glad there is a program in place that makes sure kids can eat during the school day and volunteers who help make sure that happens at home, too.

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