Poverty Rate Rises In Guilford County Schools
A recent report says about 67 percent of students in Guilford County schools are considered low-income. That’s an 8 percent increase from the last school year.
The district used a new method called the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, to calculate the poverty rate. It collects data from federal and state programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) to calculate the poverty rate.
“This is our new bench mark and I think it's a more accurate reflection of the true poverty needs in our area,” says Jim Faggione, nutrition director with Guilford County Schools. “For years, we have been struggling with reaching all of those kids that qualified for free and reduced price meals. Were parents not filling out applications for a myriad of reasons? Were we not getting the message out to them that this service was available?”
An accurate rate is important because when it reaches a certain threshold, free and reduced price lunches are offered to all students. The district is working on other ways to address poverty, including year-round food pantries at the schools and providing breakfast in the classroom.
Sheila Gorham, the principal at Allen Middle School, says there’s also a focus on the needs of their minority populations.
“More than 30 percent of our population is Latino and that’s growing,” says Gorham. “We have partnered with UNCG to run a Saturday program, specifically targeting our Latino families to address employment issues. It helps them with things like job applications and learning English. If we can make them more employable, that’s going to help the families with their whole economic situation.”
Guilford County Schools is the third largest school system in North Carolina. This year, 58 schools qualified for the CEP program, feeding 28,000 students county-wide.
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