Figures from the Kentucky Department of Education show five of the top ten school districts with the highest percentages of free and reduced lunches are in Eastern Kentucky.
More and more students across Kentucky are going through the lunch line with empty pockets and walking away with trays full of food.
The number of free and reduced lunches served at school are at an all-time high in many areas, especially in Eastern Kentucky.
In the Middlesboro School District, 79 percent of lunches served are free or reduced with 73 percent of those being free.
That number has increased by six percent in the last school year alone.
But why the increase? Middlesboro school officials have their own theories which all relate to our declining economy.
"People cutting back and as they cut back, the job rates go down and that's probably the biggest part to it," said Debbie Mayes, the food service director for the Middlesboro School District.
Although the high number shows poverty rates are seemingly increasing as well, more students are being fed for free or at a low price.
That food could be their only nutritious meal for the day. Without it student performance would suffer.
"Acts of misbehavior may increase, lower test scores, not being able to stay awake, and just really not feeling good about being here," said Terry Bradley, the principal at the Middlesboro Middle School.
School officials say if this basic need is not met, necessary learning levels cannot be reached.
Along with Middlesboro, Breathitt, Magoffin, Owsley, and Bell Counties also made the top ten list of school districts with the highest percentage of free and reduced lunches.
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