The $7 billion National School Lunch Program is up for reauthorization this year in Congress. The program serves nearly 27 million students in 99,000 schools, based on the thresholds below.
- For a family earning up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level, lunches for students are free. That means a family of four may earn up to $25,530 a year and still qualify.
- For a family with household income between 130 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level, lunches are no more than 40 cents. A family of four may earn up to $33,485 a year to qualify for reduced-price student lunches.
- Higher-income families pay $1.50 for lunch, not including extras.
- Schools are reimbursed by the Department of Agriculture at a rate of $2.14 for free school lunches, $1.74 for reduced-price lunches, and 20 cents for regular lunches.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture