ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Proof of the economic downtown is showing up in school cafeterias across the state. Georgia is seeing a substantial jump in the number of students eligible to receive a free or reduced lunch.
In the last five years, the number in Dougherty County rose 13%. As of October, 81% of students in the school system were getting free or reduced lunches.
The system offers a free breakfast to every student. School officials here say that's important because students can't learn if they are hungry.
"Here in Dougherty County it's paramount that we take care of our children, we understand that the need is great, we have wonderful board members who support us, we have a great superintendent that supports us, and I just want the community to know it takes all of us, we need all the help we can get," said DCSS Child Nutrition Director Vanessa Hayes.
They get help by working with local vendors to get fresh products at lower costs. They also look for grants to help with child nutrition and say sometimes they pay a little more for a product like wheat buns because it's a healthy choice for the students.
A full price lunch in Dougherty County Schools costs $1.50. The reduced price is 40 cents.