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
Antietam School District11%11%16%18%15%17%24%28%31%33%34%38%37%42%46%47%48%
Boyertown Area School District8%7%9%7%9%7%11%9%12%13%14%15%17%19%20%21%24%
Brandywine Heights Area School District9%8%8%11%8%11%9%5%8%10%18%19%19%19%23%25%28%
Conrad Weiser Area School District11%11%8%13%8%12%16%18%19%24%24%25%28%30%34%33%29%
Daniel Boone Area School District13%11%11%11%10%10%13%11%14%13%16%14%19%20%22%25%26%
Exeter Township School District10%12%10%11%10%10%12%13%14%15%17%17%17%24%26%26%31%
Fleetwood Area School District9%10%10%11%9%10%13%14%16%17%17%19%19%19%18%28%27%
Governor Mifflin School District6%7%9%10%9%10%14%15%17%20%23%23%30%32%36%39%38%
Hamburg Area School District10%9%9%11%9%11%20%22%25%27%31%31%35%37%38%39%42%
Kutztown Area School District8%9%10%10%10%10%14%15%17%18%20%18%21%23%23%24%29%
Muhlenberg School District12%12%14%16%14%15%20%21%26%31%37%40%44%45%50%48%53%
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%
Schuylkill Valley School District7%7%10%11%10%11%16%16%21%22%18%19%19%21%20%24%29%
Tulpehocken Area School District13%14%15%16%16%16%20%23%28%29%29%31%34%37%39%38%40%
Twin Valley School District10%9%12%11%12%11%15%15%16%19%20%22%23%23%23%25%30%
Wilson School District18%16%16%15%17%15%20%21%24%24%29%31%33%38%41%47%48%
Wyomissing Area School District10%8%10%10%10%10%18%17%19%19%20%23%25%29%28%29%30%

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
Antietam School District113118164193164193271313341350358396385443470495491
Boyertown Area School District5214856374806374807706538588929541,0361,1981,3241,4281,4541,646
Brandywine Heights Area School District182162164210164210167104146172318336322305360369412
Conrad Weiser Area School District290306222347222347490548594704710712771807926886773
Daniel Boone Area School District373334357361357361486443533487647565720755790878877
Exeter Township School District3684694094364094365295556086767437457139951,0471,0571,232
Fleetwood Area School District203236251272251272355391446467458521500495480730695
Governor Mifflin School District2612773584013584015846397418329669611,2561,3551,4631,5791,541
Hamburg Area School District259238240300240300537584634679787770836876857868904
Kutztown Area School District145167180181180181249249284306326278309342321321394
Muhlenberg School District3463574224704224706476868871,0641,2881,4181,5681,5761,7411,7181,892
Oley Valley School District77637410174101108170201305362323353399400426
Reading School District10,0699,56110,75310,84610,42110,84613,26612,52513,64714,24416,36116,48416,25415,60516,19617,15317,208
Schuylkill Valley School District137138192218192218316322432435369378373409395469584
Tulpehocken Area School District227248265273265273332379453455441481504544564531559
Twin Valley School District2982813753443753444955295716376837327717877988301,009
Wilson School District4263723763333763334594785375546476827288419011,0161,026
Wyomissing Area School District172142187189187189334313355354378425471554538558582

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