By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than 17,000 high-poverty schools offer free, federal subsidized meals to about 8 million students this school year, a 20 percent jump over last year’s total.

The numbers are attributable to a new community-eligibility provision offering universal free meal to all students in qualifying schools without requiring students to qualify through family income verification.

The change reflects several issues. As Evie Blad mentions in News in Brief in Education Week that the paperwork was previously a hurdle and it’s also known that low income kids felt stereotyped by disclosure and didn’t  participate.

And sadly, the change speaks to greater poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.