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Assistance applications help put free lunch on the menu at Syracuse city schools

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Ronnie Parrillo
/
WAER News
Children and adults occupy classroom together.

Syracuse's high childhood poverty rate pushes the school district to take the nutrition of every student seriously. A five-year U.S. Census estimate released earlier this year shows nearly 50% of all Syracuse children under 18 live in extreme poverty.

Over 80% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch in the Syracuse City School District. Rachel Murphy, director of Food and Nutrition Services for the district, said families should fill out an application for free or reduced meals.

“The more people that fill out the application, the more funding that can be streamed into the district for other services," Murphy said.

Murphy also said it’s important that parents take the time to visit the district’s website to fill out a household eligibility application because many students in the district rely on school meals to fulfill two-thirds of their dietary needs.

She said proper nutrition is vital for focus, growth, and reducing stress. Murphy and her team hope that by making food at school more accessible, students will grow stronger and develop healthy habits in adulthood.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.