Friday, September 04, 2015

More than a third of eligible rural children do not participate in free school lunch program

Rural school children eligible for free lunches participate in the federal program at lower rates than urban children, says a report by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Overall, 63 percent of eligible rural children participate in the program compared to 70 percent of eligible urban children. Only 59 percent of eligible suburban children participate. (Carsey graphic)

Overall, 63.5 percent of eligible children participate in the lunch program and 52 percent in the breakfast program. The programs are designed to help children living in households with incomes below 185 percent of the federal income poverty guidelines (below $44,097 for a family of four in 2013).

"Enrollment in these programs may be moderate for several reasons: for example, there may be stigma associated with eating school meals, or food meeting required nutritional standards may not appeal to children," study author Jessica Carson writes. "The breakfast program may have especially low enrollment because students with long commutes or later-arriving buses might not arrive early enough to eat breakfast before the school day begins."

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