U.S.A. Today reports that record numbers of children have applied for free and reduced lunches in America's schools. The increase in enrollment in free lunch programs jumped almost 17% in California, and several states — Arizona, New Jersey, Utah and Vermont — also saw more than 10% growth.
The federal government reimburses schools $2.57 for each free lunch served. But the average food and labor cost for each meal is about $2.92, according to the School Nutrition Association. With the tight economy schools across the nation are struggling to make up the difference.