As a line of Grade 2 students at Sacred Heart Community School filled their plates with lunch, some chose to sit down and wait for the server to come around with ketchup. Others waited for nothing, eating on their feet right next to the food cart.

“It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach,” said principal David Magnusson, repeating an old adage — one that might ring painfully true for many of his students, were it not for the some 350 free lunches his school provides each day.

Roughly one in four children in Saskatchewan live in poverty, according to the authors of a report released Tuesday by the University of Regina. That’s well above the national rate of 17.4 per cent, listed in the report.

Sacred Heart also provides more than 100 free breakfasts each morning as part of the meal program. Community partners make food donations to the program and the rest of the cost comes out of the school’s budget.

“The alternative would probably be going without breakfast or going without lunch for a lot of our students,”Magnusson said.