Census has an impact on free and reduced lunch programs

This is a picture of the sign outside the Quincy Public School Board of Education

By Micah Wheeler

The census is an incentive that the government makes every 10 years as a way to record the population of a state to give to the government who then provides a certain amount of federal funding to each state. The more people that live in the state, the more money the government provides. 

Federal funding is a grant the government gives to each state who then uses the funding to support a wide variety of programs that deal with education, health, infrastructure and many other programs.  According to Roy Webb, Quincy Public Schools Superintendent, about 11 percent of the funding that Quincy receives goes towards the free and reduced lunch program.

“The amount of money we receive depends on our headcount of how many students we have in the district,” Webb said. “Quincy has had a steady population over the past years so our funding has been the same but in areas like Adams county the population is going down. So after this census we’ll see what the funding will look like.”

Free and reduced lunch is an elementary school program set up for students who live in low income households and allow them to eat school lunch without having to pay full price.

“To qualify for free and reduced lunch the family has to make a certain amount of money and have a certain amount of people living in their home,” Jean Kinder, the director of QPS food services, said. “Each member of the household counts, even the infants, and you have to put in all your income the household receives. So if you get divorced or are in the military you have to put that money on the paper work as well.”

Quincy has approximately 40,000 people in its population. Of those 40,000 there are approximately 6,500 students in the Quincy Public School system and more than half of those students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. Of those students that apply, the state is reimbursed money for each meal that they give out.

Having a high amount of low income families living in a city allows the state to send records to the government to let them know that more funding needs to be provided. The income the state receives from the government  is boosted by the population of a city and also by the families who have low income. To make sure necessary funding is provided, there are auditors that assess the paperwork and find out what cities and counties have a high poverty rate and what cities and counties have the biggest populations then they determine how much funding they will provide to each.

“The Chicago public school system is obviously funded more than QPS due to the fact that their population is bigger than ours,” Kinder said. “We want to keep as many schools around Quincy populated and keep the numbers high so that we can have more funding for other programs as well.”

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