Data Provider: NYS Education Department
Free and reduced-price school lunch participation identifies the number and percentage of public school students in full-day kindergarten (K) though sixth grade participating in one of New York State's primary school nutrition programs. The percent is computed by dividing the number of students with an approved application for either free or reduced-price lunch by the total enrollment for those public school grades for the school year and multiplying by 100. Eligibility is determined by federal guidelines for family income and size.
The percentage of students participating in the School Lunch Program is an indicator of student poverty and its concentration in public schools. Research has documented that children from low-income families are more likely than others to go without necessary food; less likely to be in good preschool programs; more likely to be retained in grade; and more likely to drop out of school. The School Lunch Program provides low-income children with access to nutrition and, in turn, promotes learning readiness and healthy eating habits.
Students in grades K-6 are used as an indicator of student poverty, as opposed to all students in grades K-12, because there is a tendency among students at the junior and senior high school levels not to apply for a free or reduced-price school lunch. This tendency may or may not be equal across schools and districts.