A big headline fronts a great article on the Connecticut Healty-I-Team website today : "Childhood Hunger Rises Even In Wealthy, Rural Towns".
This is the sad reality in many communities in Connecticut in the past few years. The long recession, followed by years of sluggish, anemic growth, has dramatically increased the number of kids that go to bed hungry every day in the state. The numbers are downright shocking:
Thirty-four percent of all students in Connecticut’s public school districts were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during the 2010-11 school year, up from 26.4 percent during the 2004-05 school year, according to Connecticut Department of Education statistics.
Urban areas account for a large proportion of those in need. In Bridgeport, for example, 98.8 percent of the student body is eligible for free and reduced-priced meals. But rural and suburban communities are impacted, too. The number of eligible students from affluent towns such as Glastonbury (498) and Westport (173), for instance, has more than doubled. Other towns, such as Avon (190), have seen a threefold increase, the state numbers show.
Where we Live, on WNPR, talked with Magaly Olivero, the author of the article, extensively today, as well as with Lucy Nollan, Susan Maffee and Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba. Subsidized lunch and free school breakfast programs have proven effective to at least partially address childhood hunger in the state, but they are only a partial solution. Only families below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level ( less than $34,350 a year for a family of three) are eligible for this programs.
Childhood poverty is getting worse in Connecticut. Although our safety net has been effective protecting those in need, we need to do more to avoid having more and more people fall through the cracks.