Healthy Kids

Published on December 1st, 2011 | by Heather Carr


Increasing Numbers of Children Qualify for Free School Lunch

School NutritionDespite modest improvement in the economy, unemployment is staying steady.  The continued lack of income for many families means that increasing numbers of children qualify for free and reduced-price school lunch.

An astonishing 52% of children in the fourth grade (mostly kids aged nine and ten) qualified for the subsidized meals under the National School Lunch Program.

Children in a family of four with an income up to $29,055 qualify for free school lunches.  Children in a family of four with an income up to $41,348 qualify for reduced-price school lunches, which cost forty cents.

When the school lunch program was started after World War II, it was in response to the large numbers of young men who showed up malnourished and unable to fight.  By 1970, 22 million lunches were being served in the nation’s schools and about 20%, or about 4.4 million, of those were subsidized.

In 2007, 18 million lunches were free or reduced-price.

In 2010, 32 million lunches were being served and about 21 million (66%) subsidized.

The New York Times has an interactive map showing the rates of increase in subsidized lunches from 2007 to 2011 and the percent of fourth-graders eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches in 2011.

More than 60% of fourth-grade children (mostly nine and ten years old) in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida are eligible.  New Hampshire had the lowest percentage, with a mere 27% of schoolchildren eligible, followed by Massachusetts at 33%.

That’s a lot of struggling families.  A lot of these people were recently middle class.  With a recent study indicating that school lunch improves health outcomes, it’s an investment in our future that’s worth making.

School Lunch photo via Shutterstock.

Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

Heather Carr loves food, politics, and innovative ways to make the world a better place. She counts Jacques Pepin and Speed Racer among her inspirations. You can find her on Facebook or .

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Advertisement

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Advertisement

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Advertisement

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.