Free Lunch in the Triangle

In the Triangle region, 32-67% of kids (K-12) enrolled in public schools qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Those who qualify for free lunch come from a family with an income less than 130% of the federal poverty level, which, in 2017, was $24,600 for a family of four. Those qualifying for reduced price lunch come from a family with income less than 185% of the federal poverty level. Eligibility for the program can be an indicator of family poverty and highlights the importance of investing in nutrition resources for kids and families. However, not all children who qualify for the program take the necessary steps to enroll. This is often due to lack of awareness, limited language proficiency, and other barriers to entry. Some communities have implemented strategies such as direct certification for children of families who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, ensuring year-long enrollment for eligible children, and expanding education and communication to children who are homeless, in foster care, part of a migrant community, or attending high-poverty schools. Some districts in the region offer free breakfast and free summer meal programs as well.

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