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Consultant Phil Stover, who is helping San Diego Unified reevaluate its systems and trim costs, sent me this terrific chart that compares the percentage of students at each high school in San Diego who eat the government-subsidized cafeteria lunches to the averages for the Council of the Great City Schools, which is composed of 66 urban school districts. (Check out my full article on the topic here.)

It includes some interesting results. Only one high school in San Diego Unified bests the urban school average — Hoover High, where 84.5 percent of students pick up the lunch — while all other local schools fall short. The chart also breaks down participation rates by incomes, listing those who qualify for free lunches, those who qualify for reduced-price lunches, and those who have to pay their way.

The high school with the lowest overall lunch participation rate was La Jolla High, where only 11.41 percent of students eat the full cafeteria lunch. (They may, however, be buying other foods from the cafeteria or lunch carts that aren’t technically the meal. The problem is that San Diego Unified does not get as much money if the students buy a la carte.)

The data also show that kids from wealthier families are far less likely to buy the full cafeteria lunch than their less affluent classmates: Across San Diego Unified, only 5.15 percent of paying students get the hot lunch. Compare to that 24.8 percent of paying students in the other urban schools surveyed.

And the participation rates for wealthier kids are even lower at individual high schools: Less than 1 percent of paying students at Henry High shell out a few dollars for the lunch.

EMILY ALPERT

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