Free Lunch for All! The Effect of the Community Eligibility Provision on Academic Outcomes
38 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 13, 2019
In this paper, we analyze the effect of Community Eligibility Provision, a universal free-lunch program, on middle and elementary school students’ academic performance and attendance in the state of South Carolina. As part of the program, eligible schools can provide free lunch to all students, regardless of whether an individual student qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Using a difference in differences setup, we show that this program leads to about 0.06 of a standard deviation increase in Math test scores for elementary school students. We find smaller, but statistically insignificant effects on reading scores. We find no significant effect on middle school students’ test scores. The effects are most substantial for students that were previously eligible for free lunches, but not on other public assistance programs. We also find a larger effect on Math scores in rural areas than in urban areas.
Keywords: School Food, Academic Performance, Free Lunch
JEL Classification: I24, I38, H52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation