Nearly 60% of California Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price School Meals
As California communities struggle to effectively help alleviate "summer hunger" among low-income children, new data show that nearly 60% of California children in public schools are eligible for free or reduced price school meals – almost 3.5 million children in 2012. See the numbers for your county or school district>>
The percentage of California public school students eligible for subsidized meals rose from 51% in 2007 to 57.5% in 2012, according to newly posted data on kidsdata.org. Nationwide, the percentage of public school students eligible for these meals increased from 42% in 2007 to 49% in 2011 (latest data available).
Student eligibility for free or reduced price meals often is used as a proxy measure for child poverty. Family income eligibility for these programs goes up to 185% of the federal poverty level (about $41,000 for a family of four in 2011-2012).
"Summer hunger" programs can help fill the food gap for children who receive subsidized meals during the school year, but with budget-driven cutbacks in summer school, fewer students are taking advantage of them.
Free or reduced price school meal programs provide a safety net to help ensure that low-income students get adequate nutrition. These programs help to address food insecurity among low-income students, and can improve students’ physical health, behavior, school performance and cognitive development, research suggests.
Read more about subsidized school meal eligibility, including policy implications>>
See Free/Reduced Fee Lunch Eligibility and Nutrition Data in California
Student Eligibility to Receive Free or Reduced Price School Meals
Students Who Ate Breakfast in Past Day, by Grade Level
by Gender and Grade Level
California Food Policy Advocates
California Healthy Kids Resource Center
Child Trends: Children in Poverty
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
National Center for Children in Poverty
USDA Food and Nutrition Service: School Meals
You can find subsidized school meal eligibility data for individual school districts in addition to countywide data. From this page, click on “Choose Counties and School Districts” right above the table. Then click on the "+" sign next to the county you're interested in (as shown here) and a list of school districts will pop up.