STUDENTS WHO Qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch

Hunger Pains

In a county known for its affluence, a shocking number of Orange County residents go to bed hungry—most distressing of all, young children. Fundamental to brain and body development, concentration in school, and adult health habits, proper nutrition is essential for growing bodies and minds, but is a “luxury” too many Orange County families just can’t afford.

1 in 5 Children is not certain of his or her next meal 
Source: Community Action Partnership of Orange County: Who are the poor?

Many individuals who need food assistance have full- or part-time jobs. But in a county where housing costs are among the highest in the nation, a full-time job does not guarantee that a family will be able to make ends meet. When faced with the difficult choice between food and rent, paying the landlord takes priority.

Nearly half of all school-age children receive Free and Reduced Lunch. To qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch, a child’s family of four must make $40,793 or less—below 185 percent of the poverty line.
Source: The 17th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2011,
page 74

Nearly 222,000 children to 228,000 children receive free and reduced lunch. And for many, scant resources at home make their school lunch the most nutritious meal of the day.

To qualify for free and reduced lunch, a family of four must earn $40,793 or less per year. In three Orange County cities—Santa Ana, Anaheim and Westminster—the number of students who qualify exceeds 70 percent.

The effects of hunger on our community are pervasive and debilitating to our most vulnerable residents. Even children who have enough to eat may suffer from malnutrition and food-related health issues. Parents who already work multiple jobs have little time or energy to devote to healthy food preparation, and convenience often wins out over nutrition.

  70 percent or more of students qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch in three Orange County cities: 75% in Anaheim, 73% in Westminster and 70% in Santa Ana
Source: The 17th Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 2011, page 75