CARTHAGE, MO.--- Janeane Myhre is the food service director at Carthage schools. Her goal is to provide students with nutritious meals.
"We want to make sure that students, if there is a possibility of hunger issues, we want to make sure that once they come into the school, they are provided a nutritious breakfast and lunch," said Janeane Myhre, Carthage Food Service Director.
65% of the students in the Carthage School District were identified as eligible for free or reduced last school year. That number increased from roughly 57% at the end of May 2010.
"We count the number of financial situations that we have within that house, how much money the parents or adults earn, compared to how many kids are in the house," said Dr. Mark Baker, Assistant Superintendent of Business.
The assistant superintendent for business attributes the increase to the economy, and also because more families are living together in Carthage.
"The biggest change is that there is just more people living with other people. It's just becomes difficult on a family when they move in with someone else for financial reasons. And those kids pretty much always become a free and reduced child," said Dr. Baker.
Columbian and Fairview elementary have the highest percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches. 89% of students at Columbian are eligible, while 87% are at Fairview. School leaders want to identify students who could be going hungry because of the district wide increase.
"As far as food service is concerned, we will make sure that we have enough to meet that need," said Myhre.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education tracks the number of students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches within all districts. Here's how some of other local districts stacked up in 2013. Nearly 61% of students are eligible in Joplin, 37% of students in Carl Junction are eligible for the meals. In Webb City, that number is nearly 51%.
Copyright 2014 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.