By Matt Bush
The number of children being fed through free summer lunch programs run by schools is dropping nationwide. A report from the Food Research and Action Center shows the number dropped 2.5 percent nationally. But In Maryland, the number went up close to 18 percent.
Only West Virginia saw a higher increase.
In Montgomery County, the school system started offering free summer lunches at schools in 2006. Since then, the program has seen a more than 34 percent increase in the number of participants.
Marla Kaplan is the director of the school's food service division. She says the economy is only part of the reason why more children need free meals.
"Last year, at the end of the school year we had a free and reduced meal student population of 29 percent," she says. "This year, it's 31 percent. So, we're almost at a third of our population that is eligible for free and reduced meals."
For a school to be eligible for free summer meals, it must have a free and reduced meal student population of 50 percent.
Eight schools currently offer free summer meals.