Magic Valley Schools See Jump in Free Lunches
More students in the Twin Falls region are qualifying to receive free and reduced-price lunches as wages continue to lag behind state and national averages. The Times-News reports that in Twin Falls, about 62 percent of students qualify for subsidized school meals - a 10 percent increase over 2007. Kids qualify for free lunches through a national USDA program if their family falls within 130 percent of the federal poverty level. That means kids in a family of four with an annual household income of just over $29,000 are eligible for free lunches. In Twin Falls, the average annual wage is roughly $28,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Some districts are trying new approaches to keep children full. In Wendell, there's a new "second-chance breakfast" this year, which offers students food during the 10-minute break after their first class. Several schools in the region, including Wendell, also offer students the chance to try new vegetables or fruit at recess several times each week. During the summer, some area districts also receive federal funding to serve children free lunches at schools and parks. Last summer, about 185,000 meals were served in the Twin Falls School District alone.