Schools see more students in need of lunch assistance

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(WEAU) --The slow economy has made an impact on communities and families across Wisconsin. Many school districts are seeing a higher proportion of students on free and reduced lunch than ever before.

"The number of districts that have a high proportion of their students on free and reduced lunch is unbelievable compared to years past,” said Thorp School District Administrator James Montgomery.

In the last few years the number of Thorp students getting free or reduced lunch has risen from 40 percent to 51 percent.

“We are seeing the same thing any other community is dealing with," said Montgomery.

He says the high number of kids in need is creating new challenges for teachers.

"When the kids go out for recess and go to lunch you wouldn't know who the students that on are free and reduced," said Montgomery.

But he says what's going on at home can affect how students learn.

It’s hard to focus on academics if maybe you didn’t have a meal that morning the Thorp School District says its goal is to make sure every child is provided for from meal assistance to just a pair of gloves during the winter.

“We are here to help them out because every person at some point in their life is going to be in need,” said Montgomery.

This year the District is starting a new partnership with the local food pantry to send a backpack meal home with students in over the weekend.

"It can be tough to make ends meet, this ensures that he or she can get at least one good meal over the weekend,” Montgomery.