Changing demographics mean fewer free lunches in PPS schools

A Portland Public Schools spokesman says there are now fewer lower income families in some neighborhoods in Portland. (KATU Photo)

There is no denying that Portland is changing, and that change is impacting classrooms and lunch tables.

A warm and nutritious meal was a given at some Portland schools, but this school year, a free lunch program will end at several schools.

Dave Northfield, spokesman for Portland Public Schools, said the number is declining because of the changing demographics at 12 of those 25 schools.

He said students got those free lunches because so many of them qualified for free or reduced lunches. It didn’t matter how much families made – all students ate for free.

“Well, demographics in many of these neighborhoods are changing,” he said. “There are fewer lower income families in these neighborhoods, and the cost of living in Portland is rising.”

Northfield said the district is seeing a big shift, especially in Northeast Portland.

“Some families are moving out and some families are moving in. It’s based on the cost of housing,” he said.

The district is trying to prepare parents for the first day of school and is making sure the families who qualify for the program apply for it.

“There is a 30-day grace period for these families to make that transition, and of course those students have the option to purchase their lunch or bring a lunch from home,” Northfield said.

As Portland changes, the district anticipates demographics of students to change even more.

List of Affected Schools:

  • Faubion
  • James John
  • Jefferson
  • Kelly
  • Lane
  • Lee
  • Madison
  • Marysville
  • Roosevelt
  • Vestal
  • Whitman
  • Woodlawn
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