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Lunch program helps kids in poverty

Nov. 19, 2012

A study highlighted in a July 23 Lake Country Publications article showed that as many as 60 children are homeless in western Waukesha County.

The Mukwonago School District had the highest number, followed by Oconomowoc, said the Rev. Stephen Welch, who is leading an effort to provide shelter for homeless families through a program called Family Promise.

"All of the school districts had some; none (of the school districts) had none," he explained.

A telling statistic: The number of students who qualify for free lunches at local schools is on the rise. During the 2006-07 school year, 8.2 percent of the student body in the Hamilton School District was eligible for free lunch. In 2011-12, that number sat at 14.3 percent.

Almost every school district in the area saw a similar phenomenon.

Kettle Moraine jumped from 6 percent in 2006-07 to 10.4 percent last year, while Mukwonago's numbers edged upward from 6.6 percent to 13.6 percent a year ago.

Oconomowoc was at 9.2 percent in 2006-07 and at 20 percent by 2011-12.

The percentage of Pewaukee students receiving free lunches increased from 7.2 percent to 13.6 percent, and the Waukesha School District experienced an increase from 24.7 percent to 34.7 percent in just six years.

Even Arrowhead High School, which had only 28 students on free and reduced lunches in 2006-07 in a self-funded program, was forced to adopt the federal lunch program in the 2010-11 school year because of an increase in need.

Now, 202 students are on the program.

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