Monday, December 11, 2023

How many students receive free lunch in Hampton Roads?

Some public schools throughout Hampton Roads offer free or reduced meals to students who meet certain income requirements or are economically disadvantaged.

Others offer free or discounted meals regardless of the student’s socioeconomic status. The data below shows the number of students eligible or have received free or reduced lunches in 2017-2018.

The data above shows the number of students who received free or discounted lunch in 2018-2019. (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)

More than half of the students attending Hampton and Norfolk public schools receive free or reduced lunch 2018-2019. In Newport News public schools, the amount of students who were eligible to receive a free or discounted meal decreased by 2,118 students compared to last year 2017-2018.

For the past two years, both Williamsburg-James City County and York County public schools had the lowest amount of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, between one-third and one-fourth of the school districts’ total student enrollment.

York County and Newport News public schools districts did not have exact number of students who received free or reduced lunch just the number of students eligible.

“We only collect and report the data for students participating in the program,” said Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for York County public schools.

How much does school lunch cost?

Some schools, such as Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, offer their students free breakfast regardless whether their families qualify for economic hardship under the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provisions program.

“Through this provision, the majority of our schools, 39 school sites, offer free breakfast and lunch for all students without collecting applications,” said Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools.

In addition to offering free lunch, some school districts like Hampton City schools, also offer reduced meals, which costs around $0.40 depending on the school district. Those who don’t qualify for a reduced meal pay the following amounts shown in the table below.

The prices for school lunch cost around $2 for elementary, middle and high school students (WYDaily Photo/Julia Marsigliano)
The prices for school lunch cost around $2 for elementary, middle and high school students (WYDaily/Julia Marsigliano)

The cheapest meals are at Norfolk Public Schools, about $1.80 for elementary students and $1.95 for middle and high school students. The most expensive school lunches are Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools where elementary students are charged $2.70 per meal and middle and high school students can pay anywhere from $2.80-$3.70.

Virginia Beach is the only school district that offers the same price for elementary, middle and high school students.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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