Free lunch on the table for Ohio students? Lorain County school advocates call for funding

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 9:41 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 9:45 AM EDT
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LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - The Children Defense Fund Ohio and Hunger-Free Schools have started a campaign to bring free access to healthy school meals.

“Nutrition should be a human right; food is a human right and especially school meals,” said Andrea Helton, the Director of Nutrition Services with Wellington Village Schools.

Helton said free meals should be a right for every student in Ohio

“Children need food to learn. You can have the best teachers in the world but if the student is hungry, they can’t pay attention and can’t retain that information,” said Helton.

Deanne Kelbley, the Nutrition Services Supervisor with Amherst Schools, said those that do quality sometimes feel stigmatized.

“He said that he was embarrassed that he had to go through the line. People think that they know that they are free or reduced, or full pay and nobody knows.” said Kelbley.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, last school year a family of four making less than $52,000 qualifies for reduced meals.

However, in a release from the defense fund a livable wage for a family of four is $72,000.