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Free and reduced price lunch eligibility

Minnesota free and reduced price lunch eligibility by:


Children in lower-income households are more vulnerable to severe dental disease

Boy with apple

The percentage of students in public schools who are eligible for free and reduced price lunch is commonly used to understand how many school-age children live in lower-income households. Public schools do not collect student data on household income.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets annual eligibility criteria for the National School Meal Program based on family size and income.  Identifying schools with higher rates of free and reduced price lunch eligibility can help target “high-risk” children for disease prevention programs, such as school-based dental sealant programs.


Nearly 4 in 10 Minnesota public school students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch

4 out of every 10
Minnesota public school students (38.1%)

Eligible for free and reduced price lunch
2015 to 2016 school year

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 323,531 children or nearly 4 out of 10 students enrolled in Minnesota public schools were eligible for free and reduced price lunch. 


2 in 10 Minnesota public schools have high student free and reduced price lunch eligibility 

2 out of every 10
Minnesota public schools (23.9%)

High student free and reduced price lunch eligibility
2015 to 2016 school year

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 493 Minnesota public schools or 2 out of 10 schools had 50 percent or more of enrolled students eligible for free and reduced price lunch.  


Percent public schools with high free and reduced price lunch eligibility increased from 2005 to 2016

Minnesota public schools by free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility and school year

Source: Minnesota Department of Education, Student Enrollment Data for Special Populations: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility.  
School year Less than 50.0% of students eligible free and reduced price lunch 50.0% or more of students eligible free and reduced price lunch Total number of schools Total number of students

2005 to 2006

86.0%

14.0%

1,605

796,592

2015 to 2016

76.1%

23.9%

1,636

821,568

Data does not include schools for which information on free and reduced price lunch is missing, schools that did not participate in the National School Lunch Program, and within school programs such as online schools, special education, deaf and blind schools, area learning programs, juvenile detention and correction programs, and hospital programs for mental health and chemical treatment. Total number of schools = 1,605 (school year 2005 to 2006) and 1,636 (2015 to 2016). Total number of students = 796,592 (school year 2005 to 2006) and 821,568 (school year 2015 to 2016). Percentages are weighted to the number of schools within free and reduced price lunch eligibility categories. See About the Data: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility for more information.

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 24 percent of Minnesota public schools had high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (50 percent or more), compared to 14 percent during the 2005 to 2006 school year.


Rural and urban public schools have similar free and reduced price lunch eligibility rates

Minnesota public schools by free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility and rural versus urban, 2015 to 2016

Source: Minnesota Department of Education, Student Enrollment Data for Special Populations: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility.  
School location Less than 50.0% of students eligible free and reduced price lunch 50.0% or more of students eiligible free and reduced price lunch  Total number of schools Total number of students

Rural

75.2%

24.8%

686

226,168

Urban

76.4%

23.6%

950

595,400

Data does not include schools for which information on free and reduced price lunch is missing, schools that did not participate in the National School Lunch Program, and within school programs such as online schools, special education, deaf and blind schools, area learning programs, juvenile detention and correction programs, and hospital programs for mental health and chemical treatment. Total number of schools = 686 (rural) and 950 (urban). Total number of students = 226,168 (rural) and 595,400 (urban). Percentages are weighted to the number of students within free and reduced price lunch eligibility categories. See About the Data: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility for more information.

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, there was no major difference in free and reduced price lunch eligibility between urban (24 percent) and rural (25 percent) Minnesota public schools.


3 in 10 elementary schools and 1 in 10 middle and senior high schools have high free and reduced price lunch eligibility

Minnesota public schools by free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) eligibility and school type, school year 2015 to 2016

Source: Minnesota Department of Education, Student Enrollment Data for Special Populations: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility.  
School type Less than 50.0% of students eligible free and reduced price lunch 50.0% or more of students eiligible free and reduced price lunch Total number of school types Total number of students

All schools

76.1%

23.9%

1,636

821,568

Elementary & combined

68.8%

31.2%

948

405,876

Middle or junior high

82.9%

17.1%

242

152,080

Secondary or senior high

83.4%

16.6%

446

263,612

Data does not include schools for which information on free and reduced price lunch is missing, schools that did not participate in the National School Lunch Program, and within school programs such as online schools, special education, deaf and blind schools, area learning programs, juvenile detention and correction programs, and hospital programs for mental health and chemical treatment. Total number of public schools = 1,636 (All schools), 948 (Elementary/combined), 242 (Middle/junior high), and 446 (Secondary/senior high). Total number of students = 821,568 (All Schools), 405,876 (Elementary/combined), 152,080 (Middle/junior high), and 263,612 (Secondary/senior high). Percentages are weighted to the number of students within free/reduced price lunch eligibility categories. See About the Data: Free and Reduced Price Lunch Eligibility for more information.

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 31 percent of elementary and combined schools and 17 percent of middle or junior high school and secondary or senior high schools had high free and reduced price lunch eligibility (50 percent or more).     


2 in 10 Minnesota counties have high free and reduced price lunch eligibility

Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) Eligibility School Year 2015 to 2016

During the 2015 to 2016 school year, 2 out of every 10 Minnesota counties had high (50 percent or more) free and reduced price lunch eligibility. 

Mahnomen County had the highest rate of free and reduced price lunch eligibility (78 percent) in Minnesota. 

Counties with mid-high free and reduced price lunch eligibility included:

  • Aitkin (52 percent),
  • Beltrami (59 percent),
  • Cass (62 percent),
  • Clearwater (51 percent),
  • Kandiyohi (52 percent),
  • Hubbard (53 percent),
  • Lake of the Woods (53 percent),
  • Mower (52 percent),
  • Nobles (64 percent),
  • Ramsey (57 percent),
  • Todd (56 percent),
  • Wadena (51 percent), and
  • Watonwan (56 percent).