According to a recent New York Times article, Free Lunch Programs are swelling with new participants nationwide, indicating rising levels of poverty and economic distress across the country.

Millions of Americans are utlizing these programs for the first time, after losing jobs or settling for under-paying positions.

The number of students receiving subsidized lunches has risen 17% since 2006-2007.

From the New York Times:

“‘These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,’ said Benjamin Senauer, a University of Minnesota economist who studies the meals program, adding that the surge had happened so quickly ‘that people like myself who do research are struggling to keep up with it.’

In Sylva, N.C., layoffs at lumber and paper mills have driven hundreds of new students into the free lunch program. In Las Vegas, where the collapse of the construction industry has caused hardship, 15,000 additional students joined the subsidized lunch program this fall. In Rochester, unemployed engineers and technicians have signed up their children after the downsizing of Kodak and other companies forced them from their jobs. Many of these formerly middle-income parents have pleaded with school officials to keep their enrollment a secret. “

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in free lunch programs?

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