Across Texas, over 3 million low-income students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals through federal programs such as the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. For many of these children, meals eaten at school are the only substantial meals they will receive during the day. As the novel coronavirus begins to affect communities in Texas, many school districts have chosen to close for an extended period of time to protect the health of their students and staff, creating a substantial nutrition challenge for districts to address in creative ways. This crisis illuminates the critical role school nutrition programs play in the lives of our students and at-risk communities.
Each year CHILDREN AT RISK recognizes the school districts in Texas that go above and beyond to provide nutrition to students and is proud to release the top-performing districts in the 2020 Kroger School Food Rankings. These top-rated districts are doing an excellent job ensuring Texas’ students are getting nutritious meals both throughout the normal school day and in times of crisis like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 Kroger School Food Rankings evaluate how districts across Texas provide meals to low-income school children by focusing on meal participation rates and after-school meal programs offered in each district. Many of the top-ranked school nutrition programs are also setting examples for other districts on how to continue to supply school meals in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve noticed that many of the fastest districts to react and innovate in the wake of school closures are also among the highest-ranked districts in our 2020 Kroger School Food Rankings.”
Dallas ISD ranks 2nd among large school districts and 11th among all districts, with 74% of eligible students participating in school lunch and 56% participating in breakfast.
The top 5 school districts (with at least 10,000 students and 60% economically disadvantaged) in the Kroger School Food Rankings are IDEA Academy, Donna ISD, McAllen ISD, Clint ISD, and San Antonio ISD.
The top 5 large school districts (at least 50,000 students and 60% economically disadvantaged) in the Kroger School Food Rankings are San Antonio ISD, Dallas ISD, Aldine ISD, El Paso ISD, and Houston ISD.
The top 5 medium-income districts (60-70% economically disadvantaged), which often face more challenges in implementing school food programs to scale, are Wichita Falls ISD, Crowley ISD, Sharyland ISD, Goose Creek CISD, and Corpus Christi ISD.
Nearly half of school districts (over 10,000 students) implement the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) after-school meal program.
The top 10 districts had at least 70% of eligible students participating in breakfast programs, while the lowest 10 districts – including charter districts – had breakfast participation rates as low as 18%.
Children at Risk’s Food Ranking methodology consists of measuring the participation rate of School Nutrition Programs (SNP) across districts. These districts are then assigned a score based on the participation rates for each program, which is weighted and aggregated. The aggregate scores are ranked from highest to lowest to create the Food Rankings.
School Breakfast is weighted the highest in our analysis for various reasons: research suggests that providing The School Breakfast Program (SBP) can improve student attendance, increases their academic performance, and reduces discipline problems in the classroom. The struggle to obtain a nutritious breakfast particularly affects low-income households, but many families find that early morning schedules make it difficult to find time to prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast at home.
Children at Risk utilizes Texas Department of Agriculture data and Texas Education Agency data to generate the district scores and district rankings.
TOP TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICTS (Overall)
1. IDEA ACADEMY
2. DONNA ISD
3. MCALLEN ISD
4. CLINT ISD
5. SAN ANTONIO ISD
6. RIO GRANDE CITY ISD
7. WESLACO ISD
8. MISSION CONS ISD
9. HARLANDALE ISD
10. LOS FRESNOS CONS ISD
Top Large Districts
1. SAN ANTONIO ISD
2. DALLAS ISD
3. ALDINE ISD
4. EL PASO ISD
5. HOUSTON ISD
TOP MIddle Income DISTRICTS
1. WICHITA FALLS ISD
2. CROWLEY ISD
3. SHARYLAND ISD
4. GOOSE CREEK CISD
5. CORPUS CHRISTI ISD
6. AMARILLO ISD
7. GARLAND ISD
8. BRAZOSPORT ISD
9. VICTORIA ISD
10. SPRING ISD