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A recent study done by the Southern Education Foundation showed that over half of the kids attending public schools from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. The Washington Post reported on the study.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.



To be eligible for free lunch, a student has to live in a household with an income totaling no more than 135% of the poverty threshold. For reduced lunch, it is 185% of the poverty threshold.

The highest concentration of students in poverty are in the Southern and Western states.

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