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 2016, 51% of students in Berks County were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, a 28 percentage point increase since 2000. In 2016, 47% of students in Pennsylvania were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, an 18 percentage point increase since 2000. Half of students in the U.S. were eligible in 2016, with a similar increase from 2000 as the state.

In 2016, eligibility for free or reduced price lunch varied widely among local school districts. The lowest proportions were in Boyertown (24%), Oley Valley and Daniel Boone (26% each), and Fleetwood (27%). The highest proportion was in Reading, at 100%, followed by Muhlenberg (53%) and Antietam and Wilson (48% each).

Berks' rate was higher than surrounding counties, especially Chester (21%) and Montgomery (25%).

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%51%50%
Berks County23%22%24%26%24%24%30%29%33%35%40%41%42%43%46%49%51%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County11%11%11%11%11%10%12%12%12%12%19%21%23%26%27%23%21%
Lancaster County21%21%22%22%21%21%27%27%28%30%33%35%36%39%40%45%47%
Lebanon County20%20%21%21%20%21%26%25%28%29%33%33%36%39%42%42%48%
Lehigh County26%29%25%29%26%28%34%36%38%39%37%44%42%43%46%41%44%
Montgomery County12%11%11%11%10%10%12%13%13%15%18%19%21%22%24%27%25%
Schuylkill County28%28%29%30%28%30%32%33%34%37%40%41%42%46%47%49%50%
School Districts
Kutztown Area School District8%9%10%10%10%10%14%15%17%18%20%18%21%23%23%24%29%
Wyomissing Area School District10%8%10%10%10%10%18%17%19%19%20%23%25%29%28%29%30%
Brandywine Heights Area School District9%8%8%11%8%11%9%5%8%10%18%19%19%19%23%25%28%
Twin Valley School District10%9%12%11%12%11%15%15%16%19%20%22%23%23%23%25%30%
Exeter Township School District10%12%10%11%10%10%12%13%14%15%17%17%17%24%26%26%31%
Schuylkill Valley School District7%7%10%11%10%11%16%16%21%22%18%19%19%21%20%24%29%
Muhlenberg School District12%12%14%16%14%15%20%21%26%31%37%40%44%45%50%48%53%
Daniel Boone Area School District13%11%11%11%10%10%13%11%14%13%16%14%19%20%22%25%26%
Governor Mifflin School District6%7%9%10%9%10%14%15%17%20%23%23%30%32%36%39%38%
Conrad Weiser Area School District11%11%8%13%8%12%16%18%19%24%24%25%28%30%34%33%29%
Wilson School District18%16%16%15%17%15%20%21%24%24%29%31%33%38%41%47%48%
Fleetwood Area School District9%10%10%11%9%10%13%14%16%17%17%19%19%19%18%28%27%
Boyertown Area School District8%7%9%7%9%7%11%9%12%13%14%15%17%19%20%21%24%
Tulpehocken Area School District13%14%15%16%16%16%20%23%28%29%29%31%34%37%39%38%40%
Antietam School District11%11%16%18%15%17%24%28%31%33%34%38%37%42%46%47%48%
Oley Valley School District4%3%3%5%3%5%5%8%10%16%19%18%20%23%24%26%
Reading School District65%62%64%67%63%64%76%70%78%80%92%91%90%89%94%100%100%
Hamburg Area School District10%9%9%11%9%11%20%22%25%27%31%31%35%37%38%39%42%

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Number of Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
United States15,865,87315,867,52617,387,79316,920,63117,548,68218,170,61020,335,67220,313,25019,412,01421,007,62421,847,34523,544,47720,860,69825,368,38825,727,47125,397,45125,036,338
Berks County14,47113,97415,74015,85815,03416,03620,47320,31422,31823,63326,93027,44328,39728,72730,44532,14633,101
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County6,9777,2027,1887,9257,5707,4728,9939,3039,4449,86915,44417,68420,56923,18424,38418,87017,063
Lancaster County14,19614,64614,75915,53914,49614,80018,70819,04819,23520,49422,22023,43724,24426,46126,82430,02031,327
Lebanon County3,6223,5593,7523,8783,7523,8784,9514,9525,1865,5646,1286,2496,7127,4287,8768,0929,207
Lehigh County11,53013,33811,75314,29712,98614,29717,64019,95620,20820,77920,28424,46322,18622,39224,27121,67223,014
Montgomery County11,38111,10811,21211,43511,23011,23313,53114,25714,98416,05819,03320,72422,61824,65126,59429,51429,876
Schuylkill County5,9695,6445,6595,9465,5705,9466,4286,8316,5387,2087,8527,9098,0438,7388,9269,1119,265
School Districts
Kutztown Area School District145167180181180181249249284306326278309342321321394
Wyomissing Area School District172142187189187189334313355354378425471554538558582
Brandywine Heights Area School District182162164210164210167104146172318336322305360369412
Twin Valley School District2982813753443753444955295716376837327717877988301,009
Exeter Township School District3684694094364094365295556086767437457139951,0471,0571,232
Schuylkill Valley School District137138192218192218316322432435369378373409395469584
Muhlenberg School District3463574224704224706476868871,0641,2881,4181,5681,5761,7411,7181,892
Daniel Boone Area School District373334357361357361486443533487647565720755790878877
Governor Mifflin School District2612773584013584015846397418329669611,2561,3551,4631,5791,541
Conrad Weiser Area School District290306222347222347490548594704710712771807926886773
Wilson School District4263723763333763334594785375546476827288419011,0161,026
Fleetwood Area School District203236251272251272355391446467458521500495480730695
Boyertown Area School District5214856374806374807706538588929541,0361,1981,3241,4281,4541,646
Tulpehocken Area School District227248265273265273332379453455441481504544564531559
Antietam School District113118164193164193271313341350358396385443470495491
Oley Valley School District77637410174101108170201305362323353399400426
Reading School District10,0699,56110,75310,84610,42110,84613,26612,52513,64714,24416,36116,48416,25415,60516,19617,15317,208
Hamburg Area School District259238240300240300537584634679787770836876857868904

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
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 County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
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 Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing