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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The percentage of JCPS students who receive free and reduced lunches has been on a steady rise over the last few years, and the district says thousands of eligible students have yet to sign up for the program.
JCPS officials say they offer a variety of programs to help low income children. From providing fully loaded back-packs, to after school programs, to free meals, JCPS says it is determined to keep their low income population enrolled and succeeding.
At Jacob Elementary--where most the students are living below the poverty line--the effort to keep kids enrolled starts day one.
"We will make sure their children have whatever they need to be successful at our school," said Jacob Elementary School principal Michael Terry. For him, it starts and ends with a parent-teacher relationship. "We've always been a welcome and loving school and by opening the door to our parents and letting them know our school is a great place, and communicating with them day one that they are welcome here no matter what their situation is."
In the family resource center at Jacob, coordinator Tiffany Stoner leafs through free backpacks. She says the school gave out 100 on the first day alone. Community donors made the backpacks possible.
Down the hall, 93% of Jacob's student body is receiving free and reduced meals. And it starts with breakfast. This year, JCPS has expanded the number of schools offering the first meal of the day.
"Hungry kids can't think," says Julia Bauscher, director of school and community nutrition services at JCPS. Which is why she is concerned with getting kids signed up for meal programs.
Officials say 11,000 students who got free and reduced lunches last year, still haven't signed up for this school year. "For the first 30 days of school or until September 15, all students will eat on their eligibility from last year, giving them plenty of time to complete an application."
The district plans to feed nearly two thirds of its population with free or reduced lunches. According to JCPS data, 62.8% of the student body received free or reduced lunches during last year's school year. The district won't know exactly how many will receive those benefits this year until mid-September.
To register for free or reduced lunches online visit: www.applyforlunch.com or print and mail an application to: