Eligibility for Free School Lunch Program – Philadelphia, PA

Formula could cost Phila.’s needy students free lunch, By Alfred Lubrano, May 23, 2010, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Thousands of poor Philadelphia students could face the loss of free lunch if a new method of calculating eligibility becomes federal law. Though the change could extend free lunch to students across America, it threatens a program unique to Philadelphia known as Universal Feeding, which allows more than 110,000 students in poor schools to eat free lunches without having to fill out applications. Children and their families in poor communities don’t always complete such forms, creating the potential for kids to go hungry. The suggested change could deny free lunches to as many as 51,182 students – 46 percent of the Philadelphia children who now receive those meals, said Michael Masch, chief business officer for the district…”

Economic Segregation in Public Schools

  • Economic segregation rising in US public schools, By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, May 27, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “More than 16,000 public schools struggle in the shadows of concentrated poverty. The portion of schools where at least three-quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals – a proxy for poverty – climbed from 12 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2008. The federal government released a statistical portrait of these schools Thursday as part of its annual Condition of Education report. When it comes to educational opportunities and achievement, the report shows a stark contrast between students in high-poverty and low-poverty schools (those where 25 percent or less are poor)…”
  • Report: Percentage of high-poverty schools has risen; students face persistent challenges, By Christine Armario (AP), May 27, 2010, Los Angeles Times: “The percentage of public schools where more than three quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch – a key indicator of poverty – has increased in the past decade, and children at these schools are less likely to attend college or be taught by teachers with advanced degrees. The findings come from a special report on high poverty schools included in the 2010 Condition of Education study, which reports on a broad range of academic indicators across K-12 and higher education. The U.S. Department of Education report released Thursday found that the percent of high poverty schools rose from 12 to 17 percent between the 1999-2000 and 2007-2008 school years, even before the current recession was fully felt. By comparison, the overall poverty rate for children increased from 17 to 18 percent, leading researchers to believe that that a higher percentage of poor kids were signing up for the meal program. In all, there were 16,122 schools considered high poverty…”

Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program

Struggling families depend more on school lunches, By Heather Hollingsworth (AP), March 27, 2010, Washington Post: “For a couple tight weeks after taking in her sixth-grade stepson, Lisa Lewis fretted about how to pay for his school lunches. Unable to find a full-time job, the 37-year-old works part-time at a Kansas City, Kan., daycare, earning minimum wage. On that money alone, she supports herself, her unemployed husband, her stepson and her 11th-grade son. ‘I sometimes cry myself to sleep wondering how I am going to keep my family fed and things like that,’ Lewis said. ‘I’m making it but barely.’ Her worries were eased when she found out she could get government assistance to pay for the younger boy’s meals. Her older son already is part of the subsidized lunch program. In the midst of a blistering recession, more families are flocking to the federal program that gives students free or reduced-priced lunches. Schools are watching for who enrolls in the program because it gives teachers insight into life at home and officials consider it a barometer of poverty…”

School Districts and Poor Children

  • Schools see more minority, poor kids, By Gary Scharrer and Ericka Mellon, January 2, 2010, San Antonio Express-News: “Almost six in 10 Texas public schoolchildren are from low-income families, marking a troubling spike in poverty over the past decade, a state report shows. The increase coincides with a significant jump in the number of Hispanic students, while fewer Anglo students were enrolled last year than 10 years ago, according to the study by the Texas Education Agency…”
  • How school districts help families with less, By Kerry Lester, December 22, 2009, Daily Herald: “Melissa Buenik knows that if students are hungry, it’s much harder for them to learn. So, the Mundelein High School social worker helps teachers identify teens who might not be getting enough to eat at home. ‘We look for observable behavior in class. Agitation, sleepiness, little things like that,’ she said. ‘Once we ask, kids are pretty quick to respond and tell us, ‘Yeah, my family is having financial trouble right now…'”
  • High numbers of Shasta County school kids living in poverty, By Amanda Winters, December 20, 2009, Redding Record Searchlight: “Recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a high rate of school-aged children living in poverty in Shasta County and school officials aren’t surprised. ‘There’s not a lot of employment here,’ said Merle Stolz, superintendent of Indian Springs School District, where the Census Bureau estimates 31 percent of children live in poverty. Stolz said the Big Bend school’s participation in the free and reduced-price lunch program is near 100 percent. During the 2008-2009 school year, 11 of the school’s 14 students were enrolled in the program…”
  • Students cope with poverty, By Iricka Berlinger, December 21, 2009, Tallahassee Democrat: “Brittany White is angry. She is angry that she has to live at HOPE Community, a six-month transitional housing program for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, where she shares a tiny, cramped room with her mother and younger sister, Yolanda. She is angry at her mom that they can’t afford new clothes – or anything new for that matter. She is angry because she doesn’t like feeling different from her classmates…”

Census Small Area Poverty Estimates

  • Poverty rate jumps in rural America, By Bill Bishop, November 23, 2009, Daily Yonder: “The difference in poverty rates between rural and urban counties narrowed in the 1990s and through the first few years of this century. From 2003 to 2008, however, poverty rates in rural America jumped. The number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by more than 3.2 million between 2003 and 2008 – and a disproportionate number of those newly poor people live in rural America. Newly released figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 13.2% of Americans were living in poverty in 2008, the highest rate since 1997. In rural counties, however, that rate had climbed to 16.3%. The increase in the number of poor Americans was heavily weighted in rural communities. Rural counties were home to just over 16% of the nation’s population in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But 33% of the increase in the number of poor Americans from ’03 to ’08 – more than one million people – was found in rural counties…”
  • Poverty figures rise among O.C. schoolchildren, By Scott Martindale, November 29, 2009, Orange County Register: “More than 12 percent of school-age children in Orange County are living in poverty – the highest level since 2005 – with 3.5 times that number receiving free or subsidized meals daily, according to federal poverty data released this month. The number of impoverished children ages 5 to 17 jumped by 6,188 in a single year, to an estimated 67,062 now in Orange County. Meanwhile, a much larger portion of the county’s students – 43 percent – is receiving free or subsidized meals in school…”
  • Child poverty highest and rising in rural Oregon, By Betsy Hammond, November 29, 2009, The Oregonian: “Rates of childhood poverty vary tremendously around Oregon, with students in rural areas by far the most likely to live in impoverished households, according to new estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau. Statewide, the lowest rates are in Lake Oswego, Sherwood, Corbett and West Linn-Wilsonville. Six percent or fewer of school-age children in those districts live in households below the poverty level, the bureau reported this month…”
  • Children living in poverty increases in Middle TN, By Janell Ross, November 27, 2009, The Tennessean: “While new U.S. Census Bureau figures show poverty has dropped in most of Middle Tennessee between 2007 and 2008, the area’s children remain disproportionately affected. Poverty for the population overall increased in Davidson and Wilson counties during the period but declined in nearby Rutherford, Sumner and Williamson counties. But children living in almost every part of the region were more likely than other age groups – including senior citizens – to live in poverty…”

Census Poverty Data for School Districts

  • Number of subsidized lunches on the rise, By Meranda Watling, November 19, 2009, Lafayette Journal and Courier: “An increased number of Greater Lafayette students are getting lunches on the government’s dime this semester, thanks in large part to the economy, school officials report. Preliminary numbers for this school year show that in Tippecanoe County, only the West Lafayette school district saw fewer students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches under federal guidelines…”
  • Poverty in CMS hits all-time high: 51 percent, By Ann Doss Helms, November 19, 2009, Charlotte Observer: ” Almost 68,000 students, or 51 percent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ enrollment, get lunch aid for low-income families this year – an all-time high. The numbers announced Wednesday, while hardly unexpected, are bound to fan talk about middle-class flight and the growing swath of urban schools abandoned by affluent families. The school system nudged past the 50-percent poverty mark in the middle of last school year, as the recession worsened and new applications for aid came in…”
  • Number of poor children rose in Tarrant suburbs, census data show, By Eva-Marie Ayala, November 18, 2009, Fort Worth Star Telegram: ” Fort Worth has seen a drop in the number of school-age children living in poverty, while many suburban school districts have seen significant increases, according to 2008 estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. From 2004 to 2008, the number of such children in Tarrant County school districts grew by 901 to 53,092. The Fort Worth, Lake Worth and Northwest school districts saw decreases, while Kennedale, Grapevine-Colleyville, Crowley and Mansfield had the most significant increases. The shift within the county mirrors housing trends, said Pat Guseman, a demographer who works with Mansfield and other North Texas school districts…”
  • Southern New Jersey school districts see worst of nation’s poverty, By John Froonjian, Diane D’Amico, Trudi Gilfillian, and Edward Van Embden, November 19, 2009, Press of Atlantic City: “Gladys Lauriello didn’t realize her family was poor when she went to school in Wildwood. But now, as Lauriello works as principal in the same building where she attended class, she recognizes the signs of poverty that characterized her youth. She wasn’t surprised to learn that U.S. Census Bureau data released Wednesday show that 36 percent of school-age children in Wildwood live in poverty. That’s the highest percentage among school districts in New Jersey…”

Report: Food Security in the US

  • USDA: Hunger rises in U.S., By Alfred Lubrano, November 17, 2009, Philadelphia Inquirer: “America is hungry and getting hungrier, with 49 million people – 17 million of them children – last year unable to consistently get enough food to eat, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These figures represent 14.6 percent of all households, a 3.5-percentage-point jump over 2007, and they are the largest recorded since the agency began measuring hunger in 1995. Of those 49 million, 12 million adults and 5.2 million children reported experiencing the country’s most severe hunger, possibly going days without eating. Among the children, nearly half a million in the developmentally critical years under age 6 were going hungry. That’s three times the number in 2006. The study documented both ‘low food security,’ which describes people unable to consistently get enough to eat, and ‘very low food security,’ in which people reported being hungry various times over the year but were unable to eat because there wasn’t enough money for food. The South reported the highest number of households in both categories, at 15.9 percent, followed by the West at 14.5 percent, the Midwest at 14 percent, and the Northeast at 12.8 percent…”
  • Hungry U.S. households increased about 30% last year, By Tony Pugh, November 16, 2009, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The number of U.S. households that are struggling to feed their members jumped by 4 million to 17 million last year, as recession-driven job losses and increased poverty and unemployment fueled a surge in hunger, a government survey reported Monday. These ‘food insecure’ households represent about 49 million people and make up 14.6 percent, or more than one in seven, of all U.S. households. That’s the highest rate since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began monitoring the issue in 1995. Additionally, more than one-third of these struggling families — some 6.7 million households, or 17.2 million people last year — had ‘very low food security,’ in which food intake was reduced and eating patterns were disrupted for some family members because of a lack of food…”

Report: Food Security in the US

  • Report: More Americans going hungry, By Amy Goldstein, November 16, 2009, Washington Post: “The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been keeping track, according to a federal report released Monday that shows particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children. In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children — more than one in five across the United States — were living in households in which food at times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million youngsters the year before. And the number of children who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million…”
  • Hunger in U.S. at a 14-year high, By Jason DeParle, November 16, 2009, New York Times: “The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year, to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls ‘food insecurity’ 14 years ago, the Department of Agriculture reported Monday. The increase, of 13 million Americans, was much larger than even the most pessimistic observers of hunger trends had expected and cast an alarming light on the daily hardships caused by the recession’s punishing effect on jobs and wages. About a third of these struggling households had what the researchers called ‘very low food security,’ meaning lack of money forced members to skip meals, cut portions or otherwise forgo food at some point in the year…”
  • More U.S. households report food shortages, By Scott Kilman, November 16, 2009, Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that 17 million U.S. households experienced some sort of food shortage in 2008, up 31% from 13 million households in 2007. In 2008, a year marked by rising food costs and recession, the prevalence of ‘food insecurity’ in the U.S. soared to the highest levels in the history of the USDA’s national annual survey, which began in 1995. According to the survey, 14.6% of U.S. households experienced food insecurity at least some time during 2008, up from the 11.1% of U.S. households in 2007 that fell into the USDA’s definition of food insecure…”

Free and Reduced-price Lunch Program – Wisconsin, Florida

  • State faces explosion of schoolkids qualified for subsidized meals, By Jacob Kushner and Kryssy Pease, September 20, 2009, Wisconsin State Journal: “Nearly four in 10 Wisconsin elementary students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch last school year, and the proportion of such students has climbed every year of this decade, according to state Department of Public Instruction data analyzed by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The center found the proportion of Wisconsin elementary students eligible for subsidized lunches hit 37.6 percent last year, compared with 30.3 percent in 2000…”
  • Green Bay district gains most low-income elementary students in state, By Kelly McBride, September 20, 2009, Green Bay Press-Gazette: “The Green Bay School District has gained more low-income elementary school students than any other district in the state since 2000, a new analysis shows. The district’s low-income population grew by 2,398 elementary school students during that time, more than the Milwaukee, Madison or Kenosha school districts, according to a report released today by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that produces regular investigative projects…”
  • Economic downturn reflected at Southwest Florida schools, By Christopher O’Donnell, September 21, 2009, Sarasota Herald-Tribune: “Hit hard by layoffs and paycuts, more Florida families than ever are turning to federal aid to feed their children at school. Even in Southwest Florida, long seen as an area of affluence, the number of children qualifying for the federal government’s free or reduced lunch program has risen sharply this year. For the first time, more than half of Manatee County students — some 22,000 children — meet income guidelines that qualify them for government assistance…”

Free and Reduced-price Lunch Program – Mississippi

Free lunch common in some Miss. schools, By Gary Pettus, September 5, 2009, Clarion-Ledger: “In Holmes County, where the poverty rate is three times higher than the country’s, Patricia Jenkins’ children get a free weekday lunch for at least nine months of the year. In fact, practically every one of the 3,300 other students in the Holmes County School District qualifies for the free midday meal, as well as for free breakfasts. ‘For me, being a single parent who’s out of work, the meal program is a big help,’ said Jenkins, 42, of Goodman, who has three children in school, ‘but it’s also a big help for parents who are working and still can’t afford these lunches.’ Based on family income, about 58 percent of Mississippi’s 491,000-plus public-school children qualified for a free lunch during the 2008-09 school year, compared with 46 percent for private-school students…”

School Lunch Programs

  • Stars aligning on school lunches, By Kim Severson, August 18, 2009, New York Times: “Ann Cooper has made a career out of hammering on the poor quality of public school food. The School Nutrition Association, with 55,000 members, represents the people who prepare it. Imagine Ms. Cooper’s surprise when she was invited to the association’s upcoming conference to discuss the Lunch Box, a system she developed to help school districts wean themselves from packaged, heavily processed food and begin cooking mostly local food from scratch…”
  • N.J. schools bag funds with free lunch, By Ashley Milne-Tyte, August 18, 2009, American Public Media: “New Jersey’s formula now works like this: the state provides about $9,700 to educate each child to meet academic standards. But poor students in poor districts can get an extra $5,000 on top of that. That’s where free lunch comes in…”

Subsidized School Meal Programs

Subsidized school meals might skyrocket this year, By Tony Pugh, August 16, 2009, Modesto Bee: “The number of U.S. students who receive free and reduced-cost meals at school could soar to a 41-year high this school year, as record job losses and high unemployment push thousands more children into poverty, many for the first time. According to projections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at least 18.5 million low-income students are expected to participate in the National School Lunch Program each day during the 2009-10 school year. More than 8.5 million are expected to take advantage of the federal School Breakfast Program. Both projections are about the same as the record participation levels that each program set last year. If rising family homelessness and steady growth in the food stamp program are any indication, however, enrollment in both student-meal programs could swell well beyond expectations this fall…”

Agriculture Spending Bill and Food Stamp Funding

Senate passes bill to help boost food stamps, By Andrew Taylor (AP), August 5, 2009, Concord Monitor: “The Senate yesterday passed a $124.3 billion agriculture spending bill that pays to add millions of people to the food stamp rolls as rising numbers of the jobless are forced into the program. Money for the federal school lunch program is going up 12 percent as well, while a popular program that gives additional food aid for poor children and pregnant women received a 9 percent increase in funding. The bill passed by a 80-17 vote. As the nation’s unemployment rate nears 10 percent, a record 34.4 million people – or one in nine Americans – were participating in the food stamp program as of May. That’s an increase of 650,000 people from the previous month and up 6 million from the same time last year…”

Food Assistance for Children in the Summer

  • Free lunch?, By Simone Sebastian, July 5, 2009, Columbus Dispatch: “More poor children are eating free at school, but that’s actually a good thing for many districts’ finances. The reason? Federal subsidies increase.  A week rarely went by last school year without a plea for help from another newly poor family in South-Western schools. Parents were losing their jobs and wanted to know how the district could help…”
  • N.J. offering free meals to kids from low-income families throughout summer, By Kristen Alloway, July 8, 2009, Star-Ledger: “Eleven-year-old camper Bryan polished off his baked chicken, vegetables and corn bread and eagerly headed back for seconds.  For Bryan, and more than 40 other children from predominantly low-income families at the Salvation Army in New Brunswick, it was their second free meal of the day — breakfast was pancakes — courtesy of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the federal government…”
  • More Wichita kids go hungry, By Roy Wenzl, July 5, 2009, Wichita Eagle: “The recession has hurt Wichita’s poor people and their children much harder and faster than social service agencies predicted when it started last year, food charities say.  Agencies that track poverty are compiling rapidly rising statistics about Wichita children going hungry, prompting the Wichita Community Foundation to call a July 13 summit of local leaders to figure out how to feed them…”