Change Indicator

Eligible recipients of free or reduced price lunch in Montana

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Why This Indicator Matters

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Definition and Source



This indicator represents the number of K through12 students eligible to receive free or reduced price lunch in public schools. Children may also be eligible to receive free or reduced price breakfast and/or milk. To receive a free or reduced price meal, households must meet income eligibility requirements. Children in food stamp or TANF families are automatically eligible for free school meals. Families who receive commodity assistance through food distribution programs in American Indian tribal areas are also automatically eligible for free meals. In the 2014/15 school year, a new lunch option was made available to Montana schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP was enacted as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010 and provides universal meal service to students enrolled in schools with at least 40 percent of students who are directly certified for free meals. All students at a CEP school are considered eligible for free or reduced price lunch in these estimates regardless of their families actual income level. 

The denominator for the percentage is total K through 12 public school enrollment in respective geographic areas.

Data Source

Montana Office of Public Instruction.


GEOGRAPHY - Data reflect the school location, not the child's place of residence.
DATE - October of reference year. For example, 2018 data reflect October enrollment in the 2018/2019 school year.
NOTE - Data for school year 2020/21 and 2021/22 is not reported. Due to COVID-19 and waivers available to schools to provide free meals to all students, data on free and reduced-price lunch participation is not accurate. Data for Meagher county in 2022/23 was not available.

Last Updated

June 2023