More than 90 of every 1,000 school children in Boone County are living in poverty, and 16.7 percent of the county’s children were receiving free or reduced school lunches in 2011, the highest percentage in four years, based on information from the Indiana Youth Institute.
By far, most of those hungry children live in the Lebanon and Western Boone school districts.
In 2012, 42.2 percent of Lebanon Community School Corp. students received free or reduced-price school lunches, a program which uses a family’s income to determine eligibility More than a third of the students in the Western Boone County Community School District qualify for the program.
Children in a family of four with a weekly income of $589 a week, or $30,815 a year, are eligible for free lunch. Reduced-price lunches are provided to children in a four-person family with an annual income of $43,568. That is only $615 a year below the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate of Lebanon’s median household income between 2007 and 2011.
Feeding America, an organization devoted to reducing food insecurity, has calculated that 53 percent of the 6,100 Boone County residents who cannot depend on having enough to eat every day depend on charitable organizations to fill their meal gap.
One of the organizations helping to meet that need is the Lebanon Community of Shalom, Inc., popularly known as Shalom House.
Every year, Shalom House serves 26,000 sack lunches to children, said Kanene Summers, one of the dozens of volunteers who maintain the organization.
“We serve about 450 children during the summer,” Summers said.
In a partnership with Railer’s IGA in Thorntown, Shalom House has arranged to distribute vouchers to each child for a half-gallon of milk a week, substituting it for five juice boxes. It’s another effort to provide healthy lunches, Summers said.
See Friday's Lebanon Reporter for more on this story.