Facing low enrollment numbers, Santa Rosa City Schools steps up efforts to provide free or reduced-price lunches to students

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John Burgess / The Press Democrat

An unexpected consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of school campuses has been a precipitous drop in applications for a Santa Rosa City Schools program that provides students with free and reduced-price lunches.

Completed applications are way down — approximately 4,000 have been submitted for the current school year, down from nearly 7,500 last year — despite the need being demonstrably higher, according to staffers doling out grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts last spring and through the summer.

The district has served approximately 600,000 meals since schools shut down for in-person instruction on March 13 and moved students into online classes, according to district deputy superintendent Rick Edson. Over the summer, it distributed nearly 261,000 meals.

“That is way above normal,” he said.

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