No Free Lunch

December 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
From salisbury steak to chicken a la king and sloppy joes, school lunch holds a special place in the hearts of American public school students.For some, like Los Angeles high school senior Lisa Le, free school lunch is something she and her brother and sister rely on to thrive at school.

The Federal Government pays the majority of school meal expenses, states and districts pick up the difference, if the money runs out.

According to school nutrition association study released this week running out of money is a real concern for many states, because more students are qualifying for free or reduced price lunches due to the worsening economy.

This is the Los Angeles Unified School Districts food assembly line where 550 thousand meals a day are prepared and served at 840 different schools.

For the last two years California has run out of money before the end of the school year, this year the superintendent of schools is predicting it'll happen early and is asking the state for a 31 million dollar budget increase.

State supt. of schools Jack O'Connell said, "We know that even if you have a computer on every desk, and the school is made of gold that is that student comes to school hungry that student will not be able to learn."

At the Bravo Magnet School in Los Angeles, 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced price meals.

Principal Maria Torres-Flores said, "For many of our families, for many of our students, this may be the only full healthy meal they eat within a day."

Advocates are encouraging states, many of which are making budget cuts, to do what it takes to keep food on the table at school.

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