SACRAMENTO (AP) - The economic downturn is hitting California students as more of them turn to a program that provides free or reduced-price lunches for poor families.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell says a record number of children - more than 3.1 million - are now getting the school meals.
That's more than half of all California students.
But cash-strapped schools have less money to pay for them. The federal government still pays most of the cost of the meals, but the state also pays a small portion.
O'Connell says so many kids signed up at the end of last year, the program ran out of money to pay back districts. He's asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for another $31 million for the meals.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)