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Arizona's Participation in the National School Lunch Program


Arizona has a comparatively high percentage of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In fiscal year 2005, about 52 percent of Arizona’s students were reported as eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Arizona was one of only seven states reporting more than half of its students as eligible, and the national average was about 35 percent. Although 69 percent of NSLP-eligible students attended urban schools, rural schools reported a higher proportion of their students as eligible. Smaller schools and elementary schools also generally had higher eligibility rates. In the first required state-wide report on income verification activities, Arizona school districts reported that meal benefits were lowered for 19 percent of those tested, and benefits were terminated for another 32.5 percent because the students’ parents or guardians did not respond with the required income documentation. The report recommends that the Arizona Department of Education reconcile its NSLP-related data to ensure date integrity, and the Legislature consider using a more reliable poverty indicator, such as Census Bureau data, for state programs.

Follow-Up Report

Additional Documents