School Nutrition Dashboard

The Iowa Hunger Coalition has developed a new dashboard to showcase data related to free and reduced-price school meals, Summer EBT, and summer meal sites.

A few pointers on navigating the dashboard (watch the tutorial video):

  • To view the dashboard in full screen, click the bottom-right icon of the Tableau dashboard

  • Hover over sections to see more details, including free and reduced price lunch and Summer EBT stats

  • Toggle the map’s layers on the left toolbar “layers” icon above the zoom in/out buttons
    • There are layers for school districts, counties, House and Senate districts, and 2023 “open” summer meal sites

  • Summer meal sites can operate through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) – learn more about the differences between these programs.

Download the Data Sets

Important Notes on this Data

This only includes data from public schools in the state, and is therefore an undercount. This data was developed from the Free and Reduced Price Lunch data from the Iowa Department of Education for the 2023-2024 school year.

  • The total number of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch from this dataset is only 199,954, while we know based on other sources that the actual number is over 240,000.

Data estimates for legislative districts are based on the schools located in that district, and not necessarily the students living in that district. This mostly shows up in bordering urban districts.

  • Ames is a prime example of this. Most of the public schools in Ames are located in Rep. Ross Wilburn’s district, with few located in the district of Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell.

  • Framing the data accurately is important. As an example: “The schools located in Rep. Sue Cahill’s district saw 72% of their student population eligible for free or reduced price school meals.”

  • It is always best to examine the legislative estimates in conjunction with the full dataset for school districts to provide a fuller picture.

This is not an exhaustive list of summer meal sites from 2023, and only includes sites that were open to the public. It does not include “closed enrolled,” “camp,” and other types of meal sites that require registration or special participation requirements.

  • For example, there was only one “open” summer meal site in Waterloo in 2023, but there were numerous other summer feeding sites sponsored by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo.

  • We are working to gather the data for 2023 summer meal sites that were not open to the public to add to this data dashboard and will update accordingly.

This list includes some summer meal sites that operate multiple “sites” in the same location. These sites show up as a slightly brighter dot on the map. We recommend you download the full dataset with more detailed information to learn more about these sites above.

  • For example, Durant Elementary School in Sumner provides an on-site lunch with grab ‘n go breakfast service. This shows up as two separate “sites”: a non-congregate breakfast program, and a congregate lunch program.

  • Roughly 10% of all 2023 open summer meal sites operated “dual” programs in this way.

Real barriers exist for summer meal programs, both for school districts and for students. School districts may not meet qualification guidelines for operating “open” summer meal sites, and students may face transportation and other barriers in accessing these sites.

  • The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has a terrific “capacity builder” mapping tool to map previous summer meal sites, identify areas of the state that meet the qualifications to operate a “open” summer meal sites, and explore other data overlays.