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Federal free lunches a lens into poverty that’s blurring

LA School Report | August 29, 2014

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EdWeekWhen it comes to free school meals, it’s increasingly clear that students aren’t always what they eat.

The federal free- and reduced-price meals program, launched decades ago by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to combat child hunger through schools, has become a ubiquitous proxy for poverty in federal and state education and health programs, and public and private research on poverty.

As eligibility criteria and participation in the program changes, however, researchers and state data experts argue it is a less-accurate lens through which to view disadvantaged students.

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