Monday, October 05, 2009

Free school lunch enrollment increases in California

School districts across the states often use free or reduced cost school lunches to determine poverty in their districts. For the state of California, the students applying for free meals has increased at a dramatic rate, the largest increase in a decade.

From the Palo Alto Online, writer Chris Kenrick looks at a new report issued from the Lucile Packard Foundation.

Nearly 19,000 more California children enrolled in the federally subsidized meal program over the last school year, pushing the total enrollment to 53 percent of California public school students, according to the Palo Alto-based Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.

Locally, 7.7 percent of Palo Alto school children qualified for the program this year, up from 6.6 percent in 2007.

In East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, which is served by the Ravenswood City School District, 85.2 percent of children qualified for the program, up from 84.3 percent in 2007.

In Menlo Park and Los Altos, the number of children qualifying for the program was less than 5 percent.

Countywide, 37.7 percent of school children in Santa Clara County qualified for the program, as did 33.7 percent of school children in San Mateo County.

To qualify for the federal lunch subsidy program, a child's family income must fall below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $40,793 for a family of four in 2009.

The numbers were made available through Kidsdata, a project of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health that aims to provide reliable data on the health and well-being of children. Most of the data is from public sources, though some comes from the foundation's Bay Area Parent Poll.

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