Call it a sign of tough economic times, but local school food service administrators say they're seeing an increase in the number of students receiving free school lunches.
The number of free student meals being served at Springfield Elementary this year has risen significantly.
Lunchroom workers served 5317 meals this September, compared to 4942 meals in September 2007, even though Springfield has about the same number of students as last year. The number of paid meals in September 2007 was 1102 compared to 815 in September 2008.
Nearly 5 out of every 6 meals served to students were free meals. Bay District School's food service director, Kim Blackwell, says the trend is countywide.