This brief uses data from the 2013 Current Population Survey’s Food Security Supplement to document levels of participation in two of the largest programs authorized by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program—by region and place type (rural, suburban, and city), to identify areas where expanding participation may be especially important. Author Jessica Carson reports that only 64 percent of eligible households participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 52 percent participate in the School Breakfast Program. Fifty-nine percent of eligible suburban households and 63 percent of rural households participate in the National School Lunch Program, compared with more than 70 percent of eligible city households. Southern households are more likely to participate in the School Breakfast Program than households in the Northeast or Midwest; there are no regional differences in National School Lunch Program participation. She concludes that participation is moderate among eligible households, with room to increase participation among those in need. In particular, legislators with rural constituents may want to consider ways to redress low participation in their communities by supporting policies that expand enrollment.

Publication Date

Summer 7-14-2015


National Issue Brief No. 85


Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire

Document Type



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