JANUARY 22, 2005 - Posted at 8:38 a.m. CST
LITTLE ROCK, AR - State statistics show that the number of Arkansas school children receiving free or reduced lunches has increased in the last few years.
Education Department figures show that about 240,500 public school children receive free or reduced price lunches. That's up from the 2000-2001 school year when about 205,000 children received free or reduced price lunches.
The federal government provided about $76 million for school meals in Arkansas last year. To qualify for the program, a child's family must meet certain income requirements.
Experts say the increases are indicative of a greater problem. They say poor children are less likely to do well in school; they often have more health problems than their peers and are more likely to become poverty-stricken adults.