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Families struggling to pay for school breakfast, lunch: Now, students are struggling to get fed while at school

Some of the folks who run school kitchens and manage food service for school districts across the Finger Lakes are concerned.

During the pandemic every child in school received free breakfast and lunch. It was part of a federal program, which was not renewed for this current school year.

Now, lower- and middle-class families who are dealing with inflation are having a tough time. New reporting by News10NBC found that food service directors like Carla Woolston at the Marcus Whitman School District are seeing concerning signs.


More than half the kids in the district qualify for free or reduced lunch. She’s worried about others, where families had been denied applications for reduced-priced meals.

In some cases, the families missed the income threshold by less than $60.

The system is broken. Woolston recalled a heartbreaking situation involving two students.

“We had a junior come through the line for his free lunch,” she recalled. “And then 10 minutes later he comes back into the cafeteria line and approaches one of my staff and says, ‘Could I get lunch?’ She says, ‘Well honey, you just got lunch.’ And he says, ‘I gave it to my girlfriend. She’s a full-pay and I got breakfast this morning but she hasn’t eaten since last night.’”

School leaders say it comes down to districts having a lot of families that are right on the line of what’s considered ‘in poverty’.

There have been some legislative efforts to address this, but none have been passed.



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