Across Texas, over 5.4 million students were offered free 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 receive during the day. School districts are critical players in implementing school food programs – yet, some districts are doing better than others in providing breakfast, lunch, and after-school meals to students in need.
Each year, CHILDREN AT RISK recognizes the school districts in Texas that go above and beyond to provide nutrition to students and is excited to announce the top-performing school districts in the 2023 Kroger School Food Rankings. In previous years, determination was made based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students receiving free or reduced meals. With the continuation of enhanced eligibility for federal food programs every Texas student was eligible for free meals during the 2021-2022 school year, and CHILDREN AT RISK instead looked at total student participation in the district.
CHILDREN AT RISK recognizes the great value these districts are providing to our students, their families, and our state’s academic and economic future. With the support of Kroger, we are excited to announce this year’s top-performing school districts.
All 5,429,895 students in Texas were offered free meals this year
The top 10 state rankings:
District scores were calculated as follows
- 25% lunch participation percent
- 50% breakfast participation percent
- 10% serving supper
- 15% serving after school snacks
We only include districts that have at least 1,000 students and at least 60% economically disadvantaged student population.
The top ranking districts all had over 64.2% of their student population participating in lunch
The top 5 large public school districts* in the 2023 Kroger Food Rankings are Aldine ISD, Houston ISD, Dallas ISD, Garland ISD, and Arlington ISD.
*Districts are considered large if they have at least 50,000 students. Public district here specifically means it is not a charter district.
The top 5 middle-income school districts* in the 2023 Kroger Food Rankings are Judson ISD, Wichita Falls ISD, New Caney ISD, East Central ISD, and Victoria ISD.
*Districts are considered middle-income if they have 60-70% economically disadvantaged student population. This takes out high poverty schools and focuses on those which often face more challenges in implementing school food programs to scale.
We know that access to quality, nutritious meals is critical for a child’s development. It’s hard to achieve in the classroom if your basic needs like having food or a safe place to sleep aren’t within reach. School Nutrition Departments are shown to play a key role in combating hunger and food insecurity, but too often they don’t get the ‘thanks’ that they deserve. With the 2023 Kroger School Food Rankings, we are excited to celebrate the best school nutrition departments that really go above and beyond. They’re the leaders we should look to as we combat child food insecurity in Texas.
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. This year, meals allocated to schools through summer programs that were utilized during the school year because of the Pandemic were included in the analysis. 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)
- Clint ISD
- Donna ISD
- IDEA ACADEMY – Hidalgo
- HARLANDALE ISD
- MCALLEN ISD
- EAGLE PASS ISD
- LA JOYA ISD
- EDINBURG ISD
- SAN ANTONIO ISD
- HARLINGEN CONSOLIDATED ISD
Top Large Public Districts
- ALDINE ISD
- HOUSTON ISD
- DALLAS ISD
- GARLAND ISD
- ARLINGTON ISD
Top Middle-Income Districts
- JUDSON ISD
- WICHITA FALLAS ISD
- NEW CANEY ISD
- EAST CENTRAL ISD
- VICTORIA ISD