More than 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals

Re-post of information from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

School meal reimbursement data for the current school year shows that two out of every five public school students receives free or reduced-price school meals based on household income, a 6.8 percent increase from last school year.

Wisconsin has 346,184 students (41.4 percent) qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, an increase of 22,011 from last school year when 39.0 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-price meals. The percentage of students eligible for subsidized meals has increased steadily for the past seven years.

"Funding for public schools is vital at a time when two out of five students receive free or reduced-price school meals," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "The proposed 2011-13 budget makes huge cuts to education, balancing the fiscal follies of adults on the backs of children, especially those living in poverty. We need a budget that is fair, equitable, and does not do permanent harm to our public schools."

For the current school year, Wisconsin has 95 public school districts in which 50 percent or more of students qualified for free or reduced-price school meals, up from 72 districts last year. Eight districts have subsidized meal eligibility rates of 70 percent or more: Bayfield, Beloit, Lac du Flambeau, Menomonee Indian, Milwaukee, Siren, Webster, and Winter. Sixty-three districts had eligibility increases of 20 percent or more from last school year. Of the state's 424 public school districts, all but 10 participate in the National School Lunch Program.

"Poverty can have a harsh impact on student learning," Evers said. "The National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs have been providing nutrition to school-age children for decades. Research shows that students who eat school meals perform better in math, reading, and other subjects; are more attentive in class; and have better behavior in school. These programs certainly make a difference in the lives of our kids, especially those from low-income families."

Additional information, including a list of free or reduced-price meal eligibility rates for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years is available in the complete news release.

Information from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Last updated on 3/10/2011 12:38:17 PM

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