by Diane Tuazon
ODESSA - Lately more parents are cautious with how they spend their money, and having their kids stand in 'the free lunch line' to get a meal.
"During Christmas break last year we saw the need for help, now we're at 10% increase," School Nutrition Director, Terry Gooch said.
ECISD officials say the need for assistance in reduced or free lunches significantly jumped since last school year, and they say the increase in the unemployment rate is partly to blame.
"People that qualify for food stamps are automatically enrolled in free lunches. Even if they don't fill out application, they're getting assistance from us," Gooch said.
It isn't just free lunches that students are asking for, but clothes and school supplies as well.
ECISD's Student Assistance Services says they too have had a 10% increase in low income families seeking help.
"You still have a big population that lives on poverty level and it doesn't change, it grows a little each year," ECISD Social Worker, Scott Randolph said.
ECISD served more than 15,000 free lunches this school year compared to 14,000 last year, and officials say that number will more than likely increase in the months ahead.