The Cape's increase is 75 percent higher than the state average

2,137 more Cape Kids Receive Free Lunch Than in FY2008

This chart shows the numbers receiving free lunch in the 2007-2008 school year. Below is the latest chart.

43.75% Increase on Cape versus 25% State-Wide Increase, since Recession began

By Walter Brooks

According to date published by the the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), 7,017 Cape area students received Federal Free Lunch last school year than did in the 2007-2008 school year (see the chart above).

The Cape's total is 75 percent higher than the state average.

In Fiscal 2008 (see chart below) 4,880 children in our area received federal free lunch.  Fiscal 2012’s 7,017 students reflects a 43.75% increase in those qualifying for free lunch.  2,137 more students received Federal Free Lunch than in the last year before the “Great Recession”.

We came across these numbers while researching Saturday’s story on low cost internet access, where we reported that the families of the 1,453 area kids on Federal Reduced Lunch were now eligible for the $9.95 Comcast Internet Essentials service.

The number of students on Federal Reduced Lunch dropped from 1,593 in FY2008 to 1,453 last year, likely because some of those students migrated to the free lunch program as their parents’ economic situation worsened.

Who Qualifies?

According to federal income eligibility guidelines (page 3 of the linked report) a household of three must earn less than $24,817 a year to qualify for Federal Free Lunch and less than $35,317 to qualify for Federal Reduce Lunch.

Hardest Hits

With 1,596 students on free lunch in FY2012 versus 822 in FY2008, Barnstable was hit hard.  This increase of 774 includes the Barnstable school district plus the Horace Mann Charter Schools.

Dennis-Yarmouth saw an increase from 863 in FY2008 to 1,133 in FY2012 – at a time when its overall enrollment declined from 3,586 in FY2008 to 3,099 in FY2012.  Federal Free Lunch at DY increased by approximately 31% while the district’s overall enrollment dropped by about 13.5%.

Out in Provincetown FY2008 had 31.3% of the town’s children on some form of lunch assistance.  FY2012 showed 59.8% receiving free or reduced lunch.

The Cape area’s 43.75% increase in free/reduced lunch eligibility between FY2008 and FY2012 compares to a state-wide increase of only 25% during the same period.

This chart for the free lunch program in the current school year.

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