Feeding the need: More students receiving reduced-price, free meals

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More than 1,900 students attending Seymour Community Schools don’t pay a penny to eat breakfast or lunch.

Another 400 pay less than half the full cost.

As families continue to struggle with wage cuts, job losses and the increasing cost of living expenses, area schools are seeing more students sign up for the federal free and reduced lunch program, school officials say.

It’s the same across Jackson County.

Bonnie Burbrink, director of food services for Seymour, says the increase doesn’t surprise her.

“It’s been consistently going up year after year,” she said.

Seymour had a total of 2,268 students, or 53 percent, receiving free or reduced meals for the 2011-12 school year, putting it well above the state average of 48 percent, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

Of the Seymour district’s seven schools, Margaret R. Brown Elementary had the highest percentage of free and reduced lunches at 74 percent. Cortland Elementary, a rural school in Hamilton Township, ranked the lowest at 33 percent.

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