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BCPS Snapshot

Major increase in student poverty in Baltimore County Public Schools: 2023

There is a new presentation titled “The Effects of Poverty and Food Insecurity on Education in Baltimore County & the Mission of the Student Support Network“, by Dr. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Founder, SSN and Tam Lynne Kelley, LMSW, Advocacy Committee Chair. To view the presentation, click here

The statistics for the 2023-2024 school year for BCPS show that 81,000 students now qualify for FARMS (Free/Reduced Price Meals). This means that 74.11% of all students in BCPS are now living in severe poverty.

Click here to see the statistics for every BCPS school and click on “Public Detail by Agency” to download the file to view the data for all schools.

The vast majority of these students, more than 80,000, live at 130% of the federal poverty guidelines, which in 2024, for a family of four people, is an annual income limit of no more than $40,560. Read more about Child Nutrition Programs Income Eligibility Guidelines at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, in Baltimore County the income needed for basic expenses for a family of four people, before taxes, is now $106,000 a year. See the full chart and learn more by visiting the MIT Living Wage Calculator website.

Even though all BCPS students are eligible to receive free school meals in the 2023-2024 school year, student eligibility for free/reduced price meals remains an essential indicator of poverty which guides our work.


Homelessness: as of late 2022, more than 2,000 students in BCPS were identified as experiencing homelessness.

Read the BCPS document on numbers of students identified as homeless by school.

Looking to educate yourself on the issue of Food Insecurity?

Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that 30% of all high school students in Baltimore County experienced food insecurity – higher than the state average.  With the FARMS rate now up to 66% of all BCPS students (an increase from 43.7% of all students in 2018), hunger and food insecurity levels, and the physical and health disparities associated with them as indicated in sections of the report, are higher than ever now.

2024 Food Insecurity Report

Read a Towson University report on the local economic benefits to increasing funding for food assistance. 


Every picture is worth a thousand words!

The map at left illustrates Baltimore County poverty rates, the concentration of children living in poverty across the county, and the locations of Network schools. Click on the map to enlarge it.

Student Poverty By Government District 2022-2023

Poverty in Baltimore County is widespread and increasing, and all legislative districts now have concentrations of poverty.  To advocate effectively for improving the lives and education of Baltimore County students, it is important to understand where poverty exists in various legislative districts.  Schools also may have large catchment areas overlapping multiple  districts.  These maps show the locations of schools so that advocates may contact elected officials when schools of concern are located within their districts.  The heat map “plots” are based on concentrations of low-income families qualifying for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and for free meals in school.  For example, to be eligible for SNAP under the federal guidelines, the annual income for a family of four cannot exceed $39,000.  According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, the income needed for basic expenses for a family of four (2 working adults, 2 children) in Baltimore County is $106,391.  These Students and their families live in extreme poverty.  The maps are divided by councilmanic, state, and congressional districts, and by elementary, middle, and high schools. 

How to find your legislative districts:
    • Go to
    • Enter your address (a prompt will usually appear below so you may not have to type it all in)
    • Hit “Submit”
    • Your Councilmanic, State, and Congressional Districts, Election District, and Election Precinct, will appear below


Credit for the research and creation of the following “heat maps” goes to Fergal Mullaly, a Student Support Network volunteer. 

Click on the councilmanic maps for a full-size view. 

For all other maps, click on the links as indicate..

Councilmanic Districts

Legislative Districts

Congressional Districts

Dramatic Increases in Levels of Need

Poverty levels have been rising for many years in Baltimore County.  For example, in 2006, 14% of all students at Loch Raven High School qualified for FARMS.  Now, 80% of all students at this school qualify for FARMS.

There are only 15 public schools left in Baltimore County (169 schools offering meal service) where the percentage of students eligible for FARMS is less than 30%.

In academic year 2023-24, all schools within the Network experienced increases in the percentages of students qualifying for Free/Reduced Price Meals. The current (as of Spring, 2024) statistics on FARMS eligibility within Network schools are shown below.

Note: the percentage of 100% indicates the school currently offers free breakfast and lunch to all students, implementing the Community Eligibility Provision.

SCHOOL % Students Eligible for FARMS  # Students Eligible for FARMS
Baltimore Highlands Elementary 100% 495
Featherbed Lane Elementary 100% 539
Halstead Academy 100% 472
Mars Estates Elementary 100% 350
Stemmers Run Middle 100% 812
Woodlawn Middle 100% 563
Carney Elementary 100% 513
Woodlawn High 96% 1817
Dundalk High 92% 1993
Owings Mills Elementary 91% 659
Loch Raven Technical Academy 90% 707
Battle Monument School 87% 52
Owings Mills High 86% 1004
Padonia International Elementary 84% 476
Parkville High 82% 1,667
Loch Raven High 80% 683
Pine Grove Middle 74% 633
Pine Grove Elementary 62% 294
Cockeysville Middle 56% 492
Dumbarton Middle 38% 411
Sheppard Pratt Schools 36% 50