The Child Nutrition Director for Fayette County Public Schools says nearly half of the district's 38,000 students could qualify for free or reduced meals. Michelle Coker oversees applications for the program, which has added students each school year.
"It was around 36 percent around 7 years ago, and now we're up to 48-49 percent. So each year we see that trend up a little bit. With the economic and job status of many parents, we still are seeing that increase where parents are losing jobs and/or not able to find jobs."
The latest criteria issued by the federal government for free and reduced school meals reflect a slight increase in household income.
A family of four making $29,000 a year or less qualifies for free breakfast and lunch; the same size household earning around $41,000 annually qualifies for reduced prices.
The 2011-2012 household size and income criteria for determining eligibility: