Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

School lunch aid reflects economy

Rauna Gleason, kitchen manager at New York School, helps a student with her lunch. The 2009 numbers for free and reduced-price lunches were released Monday, and show that more students are receiving assistance.

Rauna Gleason, kitchen manager at New York School, helps a student with her lunch. The 2009 numbers for free and reduced-price lunches were released Monday, and show that more students are receiving assistance.

September 30, 2009


Need growing in many areas

Percentage of district students receiving free and reduced lunches in area school districts:


This year: 32 percent

Last year: 33 percent


This year: 23 percent

Last year: 22 percent

Shawnee Mission

This year: 30 percent

Last year: 27 percent


This year: 31.5 percent

Last year: 28 percent


This year: 34 percent

Last year: 32 percent

De Soto

This year: 13.7 percent

Last year: 12.7 percent

Baldwin City

This year: 26 percent

Last year: 19 percent


This year: 13.5 percent

Last year: 11.2 percent

Bonner Springs

This year: 49 percent

Last year: 37 percent

Local schools see drop in lunch aid numbers

The number of kids on free and reduced lunch plans in area school districts has increased slightly, though numbers in Lawrence have dropped slightly. Despite the numbers, families in Lawrence are not necessarily doing better financially. Enlarge video

This is one record Bonner Springs school Superintendent Robert VanMaren didn’t want to set.

This year, more students than at any time in VanMaren’s 12 years with the district have applied for free or reduced-price lunches.

“This is the highest by far,” the superintendent said.

The Bonner Springs district saw a dramatic increase this year — to 49 percent from last year’s level of 37 percent of students.

While the percentage of Lawrence students using the program has decreased slightly, Bonner Springs is among several area school districts reporting increases this year.

Julie Henry, food service director for the Baldwin City school district, also has seen a large increase — from 19 percent last year to 26 percent this year.

She sees it as “largely a reflection on the economy.” Henry said the district began seeing an increase in applications for free and reduced-price lunches toward the end of last year.

In addition, VanMaren and Henry said they’ve seen a change in the types of families seeking such assistance.

Many of the new applications are from families that previously had double incomes, and wouldn’t have qualified before. But families that lose one of those incomes are beginning to apply, Henry said. She’s also heard from a lot of parents who thought they’d never need to apply for the federal program.

The food bank at the Ballard Center, 708 Elm St., has also seen an increase in families needing supplemental food supplies, said Seth Peterson, administrative manager.

“We’ve never had the kind of turmoil we’ve had this year,” said Peterson, reporting that Ballard saw three times the number of food requests in August compared with 2008. Peterson said his agency serves more than 200 families every month.

Although the percentage of Lawrence students who are participating in the lunch program is down slightly, New York School Principal Nancy DeGarmo said that doesn’t mean area families aren’t struggling.

“What I see is more families in crisis; kind of situation crises that might be one month things are fine, and the next month something happens and they don’t have enough money,” she said.

The free and reduced-price lunch numbers at her school are traditionally high, she said, and have remained steady this year at about 67 percent.

DeGarmo encourages families who are struggling to learn about which programs they qualify for.

“You just need to come to the schools, talk to the principal about it, share what’s going on in your family. And then we’ll try to provide the supports for the kids that need it,” she said.


woodenfleaeater 8 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

jonas_opines 8 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

cindik 8 years, 8 months ago

Why is it ok for her hair to be hanging out of her hair net? When I worked in the school cafeteria, we had to completely cover our hair. She definitely isn't showing a good example for the food service workers of USD 497. And, I certainly hope this isn't the norm for the workers feeding our children!

Chicago_82 8 years, 8 months ago

Why to people find it necessary to make rude comments about a person's appearance? She is a very nice person and does not deserve to be insulted.

GardenMomma 8 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the reason Lawrence went slightly down is because instead of more families applying for free or reduced lunches, more are not even buying lunches? And are packing their own lunches instead?

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

somedude20 8 years, 8 months ago

hope the food has gotten better since I was a kid. Funny if you think about it, when I was young, the food was made of soy and very cheap. Now when I get soy chicken patties (morningstar) it tasts the same but cost as much as a week's worth of school lunches ($5.00 and I am using my 5th grade year (1986) as the price example)

kidicarus 8 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps the LJ World should consider a policy regarding personal attacks on photographs of people?

Mel Briscoe 8 years, 8 months ago

somedude, that is what i've been wondering about as well... one of my children was a vegetarian for a year so i had to purchase meatless alternatives for him. i couldn't understand why soy burgers, hot dogs, sausages, etc were so effing expensive. and i thought the same thing as what you posted: wasn't, back in the day (the 70s and 80s) soy food supposed to be the "cheap version" of whatever it was mimicking? so why all of the sudden is it much more expensive than chicken, beef, pork and fish?

i guess its just capitalism at its finest but by me saying that i could be considered a flame starter so i won't go on record w/ that. ;P

GardenMomma 8 years, 8 months ago

But soy food is the "in" thing nowadays. How else are companies going to make a buck if they can't up the price on the "in" food???

: )

Matt Needham 8 years, 8 months ago

"Why do people find it necessary to make rude comments..."

Because they can do it anonymously.

J Good Good 8 years, 8 months ago

Seriously. This lady is a great person and much loved at the school.

I am sure everyone who is making snide remarks is a model of physical human perfection but they are pretty damn ugly where it counts.

9070811 8 years, 8 months ago

I loved USD 497 school lunches! Crispito day, chili day, chicken nuggets + mashed tators day. The sandwich bar at Free State. Spinach and Feta lasagna. Fresh fruit! Seriously, those kids are hooked up!

Shane Garrett 8 years, 8 months ago

When I was just a child and like the one in the photo, barely able to see over the counter top, there where no pre-packaged food stuffs. It was all hot and cooked with love. We could have oatmeal cookies with or without raisins. I loved the no-bake cookies so much I took the recipie home. (still have it too.) We were allowed seconds on some things. And everyone in town would show up when they heard the cook, Tess, was making her cinnamon rolls for the Lions Club Chili night. ahh, 1962.

puddleglum 8 years, 8 months ago

c'mon man, I try to throw out a compliment and I get my post yanked?

jonathon, would you please explain?

domino 8 years, 8 months ago

I was lucky enough to go to a small rural school where EVERYTHING was homemade. We had the most wonderful cooks and meals were great. As a parent, I know it is cheaper and healthier to cook from scratch rather than buying ready-to-eat/heat food. Do the school discticts not understand this? I know that there are lots of regulations, but surely it can't be cheaper to feed the pre-packaged food to all these kids than it is to make it from scratch. Maybe I'm just out of it in my "old " age, but I still remember chili soup & cinnamon rolls when the weather got cool - fish sticks & mac & cheese on Fridays - homemade bread every day of the week. God bless the 70's and the cooks at my old school!

grimpeur 8 years, 8 months ago


Love it! Cake, or Doris? Can't go wrong either way.


As for "policy" or other active moderation...that would kill the Jerry Springer atmosphere on which this forum depends for its so-called life. Look at the threats, stalkers, and assorted libelous effluent that is permitted in here, and you'll realize that LJW long ago gave up taking any responsibility for its own forum (despite pretending that the censorship above is meaningful). When disgrace is the medium, anything goes.

And it is a disgrace.

cutny 8 years, 8 months ago

Can't the government give a kid lunch without a meltdown over it?

School lunches are no treat but I was happy to eat them. The more kids the better because you get more money from the government for better food.

Tom McCune 8 years, 8 months ago

It's probably just a lousy photo in bad lighting, but she looks like Charlie Watts.

jonas_opines 8 years, 8 months ago

On reflection, I apologize for my comment. No matter how I justify it in my head, it's still not appropriate. It's difficult at times to remember that there are real people connected to these bits in cyberspace. I'll try and restrain myself in the future.

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