Food >> Food Assistance >> Free/Reduced Price Meals

Most of King County’s low-income students attend school in the South Region.

Overall, one third (33%) of King County students were eligible for free or reduced price meals in the 2016-2017 school year. Comparing eligibility levels shows differences in economic and food insecurity in King County and its school districts.

  • School district: Eligibility for free or reduced price meals varied widely, from 3% of students in the Mercer Island School District to nearly 70% in Highline and Tukwila.

  • Region: Over half (51%) of students in the South region were eligible for free or reduced price meals, compared to only 11% of students in the East region. With the exception of the small, rural district of Skykomish, all districts with 50% or more students eligible for meal programs were located in the South region.
Notes and Sources:

What are free and reduced price meals, and who is eligible? The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) promote the health and well-being of low-income children by providing them with nutritious meals. Children who are homeless, migrants, runaways, or in foster care are automatically eligible, as are those in families receiving Basic Food or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In addition, children in families with income below $31,980 for a family of 4 are eligible for free meals, and those with income less than $45,510 are eligible for reduced-price meals. Some schools with at least 40% of students eligible may offer free meals to all students. (Currently, the Skykomish School participates in this program, so all 55 students in the Skykomish School District are considered eligible.)  For more information on these programs, see http://www.k12.wa.us/ChildNutrition/Programs/NSLBP/default.aspx.

For more information on the relationship between poverty and eligibility for free and reduced price meals, see https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/free-or-reduced-price-lunch-a-proxy-for-poverty.

Data source: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). For more information about data from OSPI, see http://www.k12.wa.us/DataAdmin/default.aspx