School Lunch - Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch

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Why This Indicator Matters

Being hungry has an enormous impact on a student’s ability to learn and can be considered as vital for success as textbooks or curriculum. Students who go to school hungry and/or cannot afford to purchase a lunch may suffer an inability to concentrate and often fall behind academically. They are more likely to miss school because of illness, suffer from depression and anxiety, and develop behavioral problems throughout their academic career. As a result, free and reduced-price school lunches are an important resource for children who reside in low-income families.  The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. In FY2017, the program operated in over 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools to provide low-cost or free lunches for nearly 30 million children, including nearly 1 million in the commonwealth.
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Definitions: Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level, receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or receiving food stamp benefits are eligible for free lunches. Children in families whose income is between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price lunches.

Data Source: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children’s analysis of data provided by Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Food and Nutrition, National School Lunch Program - Approved Free and Reduced Applications by School Building.

Footnotes: Updated May 2018.