School Lunch Participation Rises Across US

New York Times

A New York Times analysis of federal data shows the number of children receiving free or reduced-price school lunch increased 17 percent, from 18 million in 2006-07 to 21 million in the last school year. Nearly a dozen states experienced increases of 25 percent or more – including Nevada, Florida, Tennessee and New Jersey.

“While critics of safety-net programs will inevitably complain about the cost, the real problem is that so many millions of American children need this help,” notes this editorial. In 2007, 57 percent of New York City children qualified for free lunch. In November 2011, slightly more than 62 percent of the city’s children were eligible. Children from families with incomes up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level ($29,055 for a family of four) can receive free lunch, while children in four-member families with incomes up to $41,348 are eligible for reduced-cost lunch. Experts say the increased numbers of middle-class children now becoming eligible for subsidized lunch is a result of the poor economy.  In addition, a 2004 law requires school systems to match lists of welfare and SNAP/Food Stamp recipients with school meal enrollment lists to find eligible children not receiving free or reduced-price school meals.

To read the full editorial, click here.