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. (Southside Daily/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 (Southside Daily/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.

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.