The number of Michigan K-12 students eligible for free and reduced lunches decreased for the third year in a row in 2016.
According to the latest data from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, which heads up the state’s student counts, over 700,000 students qualified for subsidized lunches in the 2016/17 school year. That’s 45.6% of Michigan students.
The numbers were highest among Pre-K and Kindergarten students, with 48.6% of Pre-K students and 49.3% of Kindergarteners qualifying for subsidized meals.
The number of qualifying students has continued to fall since 2013, when the rate peaked at 48.5% of K-12 students.
Subsidized lunch rates are considered the best measure for the number of low-income students that are enrolled in public schools.
Families with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level qualify for the program. For the 2016/17 school year, a family of four making less than $31,590 qualified for free school lunches. An income less than $44,955 qualified for reduced-priced lunches.
According to MLive, the counties with the highest subsidized lunch rates include Alcona, Iosco, Oceana, Oscoda, and Roscommon. Lake County has the highest rate in Michigan: 92% of students there qualify for free and reduced lunches.