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Colorado Health Institute - Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Insight & Analysis

Insight & Analysis / Summer's End, Sticker Shock and School Breakfasts and Lunches

Families and kids are gearing up for the start of a new school year, which means back-to-school shopping has started or is just around the corner. Prepare for sticker shock. Families with school-age children spent an average of about $635 on apparel, shoes, supplies, and electronics in 2013.[i]

And those costs often are just the beginning, making back-to-school time a financial challenge, especially for lower-income families.

Nearly a quarter (23.5 percent) of Colorado children 12 and under live in households with incomes below the poverty level. And nearly one in five Colorado children under 18 live in households where parents often could not put sufficient food on the table.[ii]

Studies show that low-income children are at a higher risk for health-related problems that stem from such things as inadequate nutrition. Many of their families rely on school meals as a consistent food source for their children.

Thanks to recently passed legislation, more Colorado students will have access to free school breakfast and free lunch.

Previously, only qualified kindergarten through second grade students were exempt from paying a 40 cent copay for free lunch. In the 2014-15 school year, this copay will also be waived for income-eligible students through fifth grade.

Schools are also implementing the new Breakfast After the Bell Nutrition Program, which is expected to give more than 80,000 additional Colorado students access to free school breakfast. The program requires schools to offer all students breakfast if at least 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price meals.

To learn more about school based policies and programs improving the health of Colorado’s children, check out our recently published report, Reaching Our Peak: Creating a Healthier Colorado.


[ii] Colorado Children’s Campaign. (2013). “2013 Kids Count.”

Filed In: Community Health



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