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Free school lunch enrollment declines in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The number of lower-income school children in Ohio receiving free or reduced-price lunches has decreased for the first time in six years.

Numbers from the Ohio Department of Education showed that nearly 820,000 youngsters get subsidized meals this school year. That's 44.4 percent — a slight decline from the 45.3 percent enrolled in the program last year.

The school-lunch program is funded by the federal government. It serves students considered to be economically disadvantaged based on their family income.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the number of Ohio youngsters in the lunch program has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past decade as poverty has grown in the state.

Much of the increase has been seen in suburban districts, where middle-class families have lost jobs or seen their earnings decline.

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