Nearly 69% of South Bend, 65% of Mishawaka and 27% of Penn-Harris-Madison school children qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches. For those thousands of students, that school lunch may be the one nutritious, reliable meal that they get during the day.

Without an accurate census count, more kids across St. Joseph County could be left hungry for the next decade.

School meal programs are just one facet of education that could be influenced in the future, depending on who does and doesn’t complete the 2020 U.S. Census.

The decennial count impacts both funding and decision making for schools. That’s why education leaders — in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic — say it’s critical for everyone to fill out the census questionnaire.

“We are asking educators across the state to help us ensure every Hoosier is counted,” Jennifer McCormick, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, wrote in a letter to state school leaders. “It is estimated that for every child missed in the count, approximately $1,000 in federal funds is lost for essential services per year. That’s $10,000 per child over the next decade!
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