Of the 36,755 Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools students living in the Corridor during the 2010-2011 school year, 78.7 percent â€“ 28,940 kids â€“ participate in the free and reduced lunch (FRL) program, which is an indicator of poverty.
Lunch is more than food. Itâ€™s essential fuel for learning and social growth. Proper nutrition is tied to childrenâ€™s performance in school. And malnutrition, especially during early childhood, has been linked to discipline problems and lower IQs.
Students Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools who qualify for FRL under-perform compared to their peers. In 2011, 43 percent of FRL-eligible third-graders were proficient in reading compared to 80 percent of non-FRL-eligible third-graders â€“ a performance gap of 37 points. The gap was nearly as large in math, where only 39 percent of third-graders qualifying for FRL were proficient, compared to 75 percent of non-FRL students.
This map of elementary school FRL participation shows the tenuous connection between poverty, nutrition and learning. Schools in darker shades of blue have the highest FRL participation â€“ more than 98 percent of students at Garden Place Elementary in Globeville and Smith Renaissance School of the Arts in Northeast Park Hill receive free or reduced lunches.
Children in families earning incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free lunches; children from families earning between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price lunches.
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