Financial Security
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch

Increasing


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, but is also an indication of the potential challenges facing schools as they work to educate children who have fewer resources.

How does our county compare?

In 2023, 52% of students in Lancaster County were eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch, below the statewide rate of 60%. Among comparison counties, Lancaster was below Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon, but above Chester, Cumberland and York. All areas have experienced an increase since 2006. Lancaster's rate increased by 25 percentage points, slightly lower than the increases in Dauphin and Lebanon (both up 27 percentage points), similar to Berks (26 percentage points), and higher than York (23 points), Cumberland (22 points) and Chester (20 points).

Notes about the data

Due to administrative changes during the pandemic aimed at easing access to food, data is not available for some counties for 2022.

Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017201820192020202120222023
Pennsylvania35%35%35%36%39%39%41%43%43%48%50%51%53%54%54%66%22%60%
Lancaster County27%28%29%32%34%36%37%40%41%44%47%46%47%48%48%49%52%
Berks County32%32%34%37%39%40%41%43%44%48%47%52%51%52%53%84%80%58%
Chester County14%15%15%16%17%17%18%20%20%23%24%25%26%26%28%28%34%
Cumberland County16%17%18%19%22%22%23%25%25%27%28%29%30%31%31%26%38%
Dauphin County37%38%38%41%41%41%43%45%46%52%52%53%58%59%59%47%24%64%
Lebanon County27%27%28%30%34%35%37%39%41%41%48%47%51%50%51%100%54%
York County25%26%27%29%32%32%35%37%38%41%43%44%44%44%45%99%48%

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education




Number of Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch
200620072008200920102011201220132014201520162017201820192020202120222023
Pennsylvania1,278,6831,290,4611,287,6741,326,9881,398,2711,419,9161,466,4341,554,503776,334850,937897,429899,670923,060937,790946,77098,6161,5691,006,531
Lancaster County19,35920,70321,18522,61224,28625,62126,21927,75728,82929,89730,62132,39832,78733,45233,0932,72033,468
Berks County22,31022,39724,48825,99627,53328,43629,20930,47631,30633,41834,34135,10335,75536,27336,87131621539,720
Chester County10,30710,69611,00812,29513,01513,54714,36215,93916,18017,83617,72017,81818,56118,67420,4201,61923,533
Cumberland County4,5594,9365,2385,7506,4956,5617,0867,6617,8088,2388,5439,0009,3949,78810,12249612,288
Dauphin County15,33015,52415,49316,40616,58916,33216,87417,42317,71219,24819,43719,15922,09122,39922,7539,83217624,532
Lebanon County5,2565,1885,4115,7376,5966,8387,1327,6628,1298,4509,5539,5989,26410,50810,4355,08110,948
York County16,82317,99718,88519,90021,68521,70324,18425,50426,28528,54930,03330,14830,06931,02331,2226,00332,876

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education




INDICATORS TREND
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Per-Student Spending Maintaining
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Rate of Foster Care Admissions Maintaining
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
College Graduation Rates Decreasing
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Violent Crime Rate Maintaining
Incarceration Rate Decreasing
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population Density Increasing
Air Quality Decreasing
Water Use Decreasing
Waterways Impaired by Pollution Not Applicable
Change in Population Increasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Population by Age Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People with Disabilities Maintaining
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Change in Total Jobs Increasing
Change in Employment by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Workers by Occupation Not Applicable
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Since 2000 Increasing
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Employer Size Not Applicable
Change in Number of Businesses by Sector Increasing
Change in Total Agricultural Sales Increasing
Spending for Local Government Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Veterans Living in Poverty Maintaining
Working Poor Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Household Receiving Temporary Assistance Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
Median Home Value Maintaining
Occupied Housing Units Maintaining
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Rent Maintaining
Cost of Renting Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Means of Transportation to Work, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Without Health Insurance Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Health Status Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Mortality Rates Decreasing
Mortality Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Fatal Drug Overdoses Increasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Increasing
STEM Graduates Maintaining
Science and Engineering Research and Development Maintaining
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Incarceration Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving SNAP by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable


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