Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch

Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch

What does this measure?

The number of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch as a percentage of total K-12 enrollment. Students are eligible for free lunch if their family's income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty threshold and for reduced price lunch if income is 130-185% of that threshold.

Why is this important?

This measure not only shows the proportion of low-income students and families in an area, it is also an indication of the potential challenges facing schools as they work to educate children who have fewer resources at home.

How is our county performing?

In 2015, 48% of students in Berks County were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, a 26 percentage point increase since 2000. In 2015, 45% of students in Pennsylvania were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, a 16 percentage point increase since 2000. Half of students in the U.S. were eligible in 2015, with a similar increase from 2000 as the state.

In 2015, eligibility for free or reduced price lunch varied widely among local school districts. The lowest proportions were in Boyertown (21%), Oley Valley (23%), Kutztown and Schuylkill Valley (24% each). The highest proportion was in Reading, at 99%, followed by Muhlenberg (48%), Antietam (47%) and Hamburg (39%).

Berks' rate was higher than surrounding counties, especially Chester (28%) and Montgomery (27%).

Notes about the data

Data are from the National Center for Education Statistics. With the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the National School Lunch Program now includes a "Community Eligibility" provision allowing districts with at least 40% of students qualifying for free meals to serve free meals to all enrolled students.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
United States34%34%37%35%36%37%42%41%40%43%45%48%42%51%52%50%
Berks County22%24%24%23%24%30%29%31%34%39%39%41%41%44%47%48%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County11%11%12%11%11%12%13%12%12%19%21%24%26%27%28%28%
Lancaster County21%22%23%21%21%27%27%26%28%32%34%35%39%39%44%44%
Lebanon County20%21%22%21%21%26%26%26%29%32%33%36%39%41%43%42%
Lehigh County30%26%29%26%28%34%38%35%39%40%44%39%44%45%39%40%
Montgomery County11%11%11%11%11%13%13%13%15%18%19%21%23%24%27%27%
Schuylkill County27%28%29%27%30%32%34%33%36%39%40%41%44%45%46%47%
School Districts
Antietam School District12%16%18%15%18%24%28%30%32%33%37%37%42%44%48%47%
Boyertown Area School District7%9%7%9%7%11%9%12%13%14%15%17%19%20%20%21%
Brandywine Heights Area School District8%8%10%8%11%8%5%8%9%18%19%18%18%22%24%25%
Conrad Weiser Area School District11%8%13%8%12%17%18%20%23%24%24%27%29%33%32%32%
Daniel Boone Area School District12%12%11%11%10%14%12%14%13%17%14%18%20%21%24%25%
Exeter Township School District13%11%11%10%11%13%13%14%15%17%17%16%23%25%26%26%
Fleetwood Area School District10%10%11%10%10%13%15%17%17%17%19%18%18%18%28%28%
Governor Mifflin School District7%8%10%9%10%14%15%17%20%23%22%30%32%35%39%39%
Hamburg Area School District9%9%11%9%11%20%21%24%26%31%31%34%37%36%38%39%
Kutztown Area School District9%10%10%10%10%14%14%17%18%20%17%20%23%21%23%24%
Muhlenberg School District12%14%16%14%16%21%21%26%31%37%40%44%44%49%49%48%
Oley Valley School District3%3%5%3%5%5%8%10%15%19%17%19%23%23%23%
Reading School District62%69%65%65%66%76%71%76%82%92%92%89%86%92%98%99%
Schuylkill Valley School District8%10%11%10%11%16%16%22%22%19%19%19%21%20%24%24%
Tulpehocken Area School District14%15%16%15%16%19%22%27%28%28%31%33%36%38%37%38%
Twin Valley School District9%13%11%12%11%15%16%16%18%20%21%23%23%23%24%25%
Wilson School District8%10%10%10%10%14%14%15%16%18%18%20%22%27%28%27%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Number of Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
United States15,865,87315,867,52617,387,79316,920,63117,548,68218,170,61020,335,67220,313,25019,412,01421,007,62421,847,34523,544,47720,860,69825,368,38825,727,47125,397,451
Berks County13,97415,74016,14115,40816,14120,69320,48522,56023,69227,12027,65728,63628,98830,75332,44232,442
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County7,2027,1887,6367,2507,3618,8109,1409,2619,10215,31117,38720,20822,84524,02725,24525,245
Lancaster County14,64614,75915,53914,49614,80018,70819,04818,66419,45922,22023,43724,24426,46126,82430,02030,020
Lebanon County3,5593,7523,8783,7523,8784,9514,9525,1865,5646,1286,2496,7127,4287,8768,0928,092
Lehigh County13,33811,75313,33512,06913,33516,55919,02919,08119,61720,38523,16820,78822,53922,99320,05220,052
Montgomery County11,23411,21211,44111,17611,23913,49414,24914,88716,02419,07020,94322,88424,95726,84629,86729,867
Schuylkill County5,6445,6595,7715,3545,7716,2136,5956,6176,9677,5617,6417,7838,3598,5338,7068,706
School Districts
Antietam School District118164193164193271313341350358396385443470495495
Boyertown Area School District4856374806374807706538588929541,0361,1981,3241,4281,4541,454
Brandywine Heights Area School District162164210164210167104146172318336322305360369369
Conrad Weiser Area School District306222347222347490548594704710712771807926886886
Daniel Boone Area School District334357361357361486443533487647565720755790878878
Exeter Township School District4694094364094365295556086767437457139951,0471,0571,057
Fleetwood Area School District236251272251272355391446467458521500495480730730
Governor Mifflin School District2773584013584015846397418329669611,2561,3551,4631,5791,579
Hamburg Area School District238240300240300537584634679787770836876857868868
Kutztown Area School District167180181180181249249284306326278309342321321321
Muhlenberg School District3574224704224706476868871,0641,2881,4181,5681,5761,7411,7181,718
Oley Valley School District637410174101108170201305362323353399400400
Reading School District9,56110,75310,84610,42110,84613,26612,52513,64714,24416,36116,48416,25415,60516,19617,15317,153
Schuylkill Valley School District138192218192218316322432435369378373409395469469
Tulpehocken Area School District248265273265273332379453455441481504544564531531
Twin Valley School District281375344375344495529571637683732771787798830830
Wilson School District3924905194905197577968299381,0281,0571,1721,2791,5921,6331,633

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Vacant Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing