Wednesday, January 21, 2015
SHIFTS IN SCHOOL LUNCH PARTICIPATION
The number of children participating in the National School Lunch Program is changing. A new analysis by the Food Research and Action Center shows that lower family incomes and improvements to the eligibility process for school meals have led to a continuous increase in participation among low-income children; and rules on pricing of meals for other children have contributed to a multi-year decline in participation for those with higher family incomes. As the recession reduced many families’ incomes, the number of free and reduced-priced participants increased, and the number of paid participants dropped. As a result of eligibility process improvements, like more efficient and accurate cross-certification with other means-tested programs such as SNAP, more families were determined eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. And, the Community Eligibility Provision, allowed high-poverty schools to reduce paperwork and offer free breakfast and lunch to all children. Higher prices for school meals pushed in the other direction. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 required most school districts to increase “paid lunch” charges to students not eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Source: Food Research and Action Center, 1/14/15, School Lunch Shifts