New York City Offers Free Lunch for All Public School Students
September 6, 2017
Lunch at New York City public schools will be available free of charge to all 1.1 million students beginning this school year, Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, said on Wednesday in the basement cafeteria of a Hell’s Kitchen elementary school. The new school year begins on Thursday.
Advocates Hope That Food Issues Will Find a Place on City’s Campaign Table
June 7, 2017 - City Limits by Kate Pastor
The city budget for fiscal 2018, which was passed this week, also includes money for a significant expansion of universal free school lunch, a longstanding policy goal of anti-hunger advocates, who believe that the stigma associated with getting “free lunch” deters thousands of students from using the benefits to which they are entitled. Under the new deal, all schools where 70 percent or more of students are eligible for free lunch will be part of the universal-free program. According to Liz Accles of Community Food Advocates, the expansion means 90 percent of schools (adding 890 schools to the 565 already covered) and 84 percent of students (adding 475,000 kids to the 353,000 students already covered) will receive universal free lunch.
NYC Budget Deal Has Millions for Youth Jobs, Free School Lunches
June 3, 2017 - Bloomberg News by Henry Goldman
New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito -- both Democrats -- shook hands on an $85 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year that includes about $30 million to create thousands of permanent and summer jobs for city youth.
New spending on schools includes $107 million in capital and operating funds to provide all schools with gyms or other physical education facilities and more than $10 million to offer more students free lunches.
De Blasio, City Council reach agreement on $85B budget
June 3, 2017 - New York Post by Yoav Gonen
Mayor de Blasio and the City Council reached a tentative agreement Friday on an $85.2 billion budget for fiscal 2018 — a 3.7 percent increase over the previous year’s adopted budget.
An additional $10.4 million was added to the budget to expand the free-lunch program in schools — which had been a priority for council members and Public Advocate Letitia James.
Mayor de Blasio Announces Budget for Fiscal Year 2018
June 2, 2017 - NBC 4 New York
Mayor de Blasio and the City Council have announced an agreement on an $85.2 billion budget that adds money for programs including emergency food assistance and school gym classes.
The budget significantly expands the number of schools offering free lunch for all students. The I-Team recently reported that kids from families over the current income cutoff were skipping meals so their parents wouldn't be charged.
Mayor de Blasio, City Council agree on $85.2B budget deal
June 2, 2017 - New York Daily News by Jillian Jorgensen
The Council, meanwhile, got new money for several of its priorities including $23 million to end the waiting list for home care for seniors, $25 million to expand a property tax credit for veterans who served in war time, $9 million to expand the Summer Youth Employment Program, and a $7.2 million increase — that’s a 15 percent hike — in funding for emergency food assistance.
There’s also $2.1 million to expand breakfast in city classrooms, $10.4 million for free school lunch and $110 in capital funds for libraries.
Ending School Lunch Shaming
May 31, 2017 - Time Warner Cable News by Capital Tonight Staff
You've probably seen stories surface on social media about kids being shamed for not being able to pay for their school lunches. My first guests this evening are sponsoring legislation that would prevent schools from denying students meals, or requiring students to do chores to pay for meals. Instead, schools would be required to contact parents and guardians directly. Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon join us from the New York City studio to discuss.
Last City Budget Hearing Sets Stage for Final Negotiations
May 26, 2017 - Gotham Gazette by Samar Khurshid
Although Ferreras-Copeland commended the de Blasio administration for funding key initiatives -- air conditioning in public school classrooms, immigrant support services, planning for borough-based jails in the effort to close the Rikers Island complex -- and reducing excess capital appropriations, she criticized the lack of funding for universal school lunch, senior services, youth jobs, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. The budget, “as it currently stands, does not appropriately reflect the vision of both the Council and the Mayor,” she said.
School Lunches Are A Right, Not A Privilege
May 23, 2017 - HuffPost by David Sandman
As a candidate, Mayor de Blasio promised to enact universal free school lunch in New York City public schools. The Mayor has aggressively pursued policies to decrease inequality in the City and clearly understands the important links among food access, health, and learning. From affordable housing to universal pre-K, the Mayor has worked to address the needs of poor and working class New Yorkers. But universal school lunch sticks out as an unfulfilled pledge.
Inside the School Lunch Affordability Gap: Too Affluent for Free Food, Can’t Afford $1.75 Meals
May 22, 2017 - The 74 by Naomi Nix
According to two New York City nonprofits, Community Food Advocates and the Citizens’ Committee for Children, there are about 110,000 city kids whose families struggle to pay the estimated $315 annual cost of school lunch for each child.
“Someone could be $2 over the limit and they are not eligible,” said Liz Accles, executive director of Community Food Advocates. “Given the costs of New York City, it really makes the difference between paying an electric bill and paying a lunch bill.”
Readers sound off on Roger Ailes, Goldie Hawn and school lunch
May 19, 2017 - New York Daily News Opinion Page
Manhattan: Re “All schoolkids entitled to lunch” (May 17): Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has made clear that she denies the massive public support and evidence that Universal Free School Lunch is necessary and must be implemented in all NYC public schools. The chancellor demonstrates an astounding disconnect from the experiences of students in the lunchroom by offering an agency memo to principals, requiring school workers to feed hungry children who don’t have lunch money, in place of developing sound public policy that would firmly establish a federally funded universal lunch program for all children
City Leaders Advocate For Universal Free Lunch
May 18, 2017 - Queens Tribune by Ariel Hernandez
On Monday, city leaders rallied at City Hall to demand that de Blasio provide universal free school lunch to all of the city’s 1.1 million public- school students.
Among those representing the borough were Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Councilmen I. Daneek Miller (St. Albans) and Eric Ulrich (D-Ozone Park), as well as Mercedes Buchanan, chief of staff for Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and Monica Gutierrez, director of education for the Queens borough president, Melinda Katz.
Farina's 'Out-of-Touch' Letter on Free Lunch Misses the Point: Advocates
May 17, 2017 - DNAinfo by Amy Zimmer
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña this week ordered principals to ensure that all elementary and middle school students in need who ask for free lunch be provided a meal — in what hunger advocates dismissed as a "out-of-touch" reiteration of existing school policies that fail students who are too ashamed to speak up.
Advocates say Fariña’s advice will do little to change the complicated factors leading hungry kids to skip school lunch — which studies have found has serious consequences on their ability to concentrate and learn.
“The chancellor is completely out of touch here,” said Liz Accles, executive director of Community Food Advocates, which is leading the Lunch 4 Learning campaign for universal free lunch.
Public Pressure Builds Toward Providing Universal Free Lunch in City Schools
May 16, 2017 - NY1 News
Calls are growing for the city to provide free lunch to all public school students — regardless of income.
Supporters of the idea rallied on the steps of City Hall yesterday. They want Mayor Bill de Blasio to set aside federal funding for a universal free school lunch program in the next city budget.
Many school kids already qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on income. But critics say some kids feel stigmatized by accepting free food while others have to pay.
Call grows for universal free lunch in public schools
May 16, 2017 - News 12 Brooklyn by Naomi Choy Smith
Some advocates are lobbying for universal free lunch in all of the city's public schools.
More than 500,000 low-income New York City public school students get free or reduced-priced lunch. Now, some elected leaders and community groups want to expand the program to all students.
Nonprofit Community Food Advocates says nearly 3,000 students in East New York do not qualify for the existing free lunch program because their parents' income is just above the poverty line.
Push to Offer Free Lunches At All Public Schools
May 11, 2017 - NY1 by Lisa Voyticki
There’s a growing push on Staten Island to offer free lunch in every public school. NY1’s Lisa Voyticki explains why some say it’s so important.
Miguel Rodriguez is a high school track coach on Staten Island, and says he believes some students are lacking energy because they aren’t eating lunch.
“One of the first things I ask them is 'what did you eat?'" said Rodriguez. He says they respond with "'I didn’t get anything coach.'”
The Fight for Free Lunch
May 9, 2017 - NBC News 4 New York
Three out of four New York City public school students come from families with incomes so low they qualify for free lunch but some teachers and parents tell the I-Team there are thousands more children enduring stomach aches and fatigue because their parents can’t afford the lunch bills. News 4’s Melissa Russo reports.
At First Executive Budget Hearing, Council Pushes Unfunded Priorities
May 5, 2017 - Gotham Gazette by Samar Khurshid
Mark-Viverito said she is disappointed that the budget did not expand the Summer Youth Employment Program, a six-week paid jobs program for youth 14-24 years old, from the current baselined 65,000 slots to 80,000 slots for fiscal year 2018. She is “dismayed” that the budget did not eliminate all school lunch fees, which would have done away with the stigma associated with free lunches available to low-income students, she said.
Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill
April 30, 2017 - The New York Times by Bettina Elias Siegel
On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.
“I was so embarrassed,” said Caitlin, who said other students had stared. “It’s really weird being denied food in front of everyone. They all talk about you.”
Make sure our kids get to eat: offer universal free school lunch
April 21, 2017 - The Riverdale Press by the Editorial Board
How many times have we heard the old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”?
We say it over and over as a way to prove that it’s impossible to get something for nothing. As if lunch is some kind of luxury afforded only by those who deserve it.
Lunch, however, is not a privilege. It’s a need, not only for us, but especially for our growing and developing children. They spend hours in school each day, preparing themselves to inherit the planet we’re currently tasked to maintain. And they need the energy and the nutrition from a hot school lunch in order to make that happen.
Why aren't lunches free in NYC's public schools?
April 18, 2017 - Time Out by Time Out Kids contributors
It's true: NYC is ultra expensive, and beyond a free ice cream scoop or sprinkle-covered donut every once in a while, it's hard to imagine "free" and "NYC" in the same sentence. This being said, free resources for city kids do exist, and are (by far) one of the most important things our city has to offer. After all, kids are the future! The topic of discussion today is how we take care of our kids at school, and whether or not all NYC kids have enough energy to focus on their studies. Could free lunch for all city public school students be on the horizon?
Oddo, beeps, urge de Blasio to support free school lunch for all
April 18, 2017 - SiLive by Diane C. Lore
Borough President James Oddo and his borough hall colleagues in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to fund free school lunches for all children in city public schools.
The five borough presidents wrote a joint letter to the mayor asking him to add money to the budget to fund universal free lunch.
Students currently qualify for free lunch based upon their income, but backers of universal free lunch argue that some kids wind up going hungry because they are embarrassed in front of peers, or their parents or guardians fail to submit the necessary paperwork to qualify.
Borough Presidents Call for Universal Free Lunch in City Schools
April 17, 2017 - NY1 News
Mayor Bill de Blasio is being pressured to go from universal Pre-K to universal free lunch for all city students.
All five of the city's Borough Presidents have signed a letter to the mayor asking him to set aside money in next year's budget to provide free lunch at every public school in the city.
Many kids already qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on their income, but universal lunch supporters say this stigmatizes students, with some going hungry because they're too embarassed to accept food for free while others still have to pay.
Poll shows 82% of voters support universal free lunch for NYC public school students
April 17, 2017 - New York Daily News
The vast majority of city voters support giving free lunch to all public school students, a new poll shows.
The poll done by the Global Strategy Group for the New York State Health Foundation, which supports the proposal, found 82% of New York voters back universal free lunch. Of those, 61% strongly support it and 20% somewhat support it.
...In the poll, 66% of voters said they’re more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who supports free lunch for all.
Free lunch for all, NYC borough presidents insist
April 17, 2017 - Metro New York by Amanda Mikelberg
There could be such a thing as a free lunch … in New York City schools.
In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, all five borough presidents asked that money be put aside to expand the city’s free lunch program to all public school students and not just those eligible on the basis of family income.
The argument for expansion is to improve participation in free lunch consumption. The borough presidents noted a phenomenon in which qualifying kids don’t take the lunch they are entitled to, and often go hungry because they don’t want to reveal to their peers that they are poor.
City borough presidents want Mayor de Blasio to push for free public school lunches
April 17, 2017 - New York Daily News by Erin Durkin
All five of the city’s borough presidents are pushing Mayor de Blasio to offer free lunch to all public school kids.
The pols - Staten Island Republican Jimmy Oddo and Democrats Eric Adams of Brooklyn, Gale Brewer of Manhattan, Melinda Katz of Queens and Ruben Diaz Jr. of the Bronx - wrote a letter to de Blasio asking him to put the cash in next year’s budget for universal free lunch.
Kids currently qualify for free lunch based on their income, but backers of universal free lunch argue some end up going hungry because they’re too embarrassed to take the freebies when others are paying.
With City Budget Hearings Set to Begin, Several Points of Funding Contention
February 28, 2017 - Gotham Gazette by Samar Khurshid
Advocates and elected officials have been pushing Mayor de Blasio to follow through on a 2013 campaign promise and provide universal free lunch for all of the city’s 1.1 million public school children.
According to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), about 47,000 more children would get free lunches if the program became universal, and 92 percent of the cost would be covered by the state and federal governments. Proponents of universal free lunch argue that it would remove the stigma associated with the current program, which gives free lunches to low-income and homeless children.
What Trump Means for Hunger and Nutrition in New York City
February 27, 2017 - City Limits by Elizabeth Michaelson Monaghan
Food insecurity is a particular issue for New York City children, 19 percent of whom rely on soup kitchens and food pantries. New York City-based non-profit Community Food Advocates (and a group of more than 250 organizations and elected officials) think free school lunches for all public school students—which is currently available in multiple cities, including Chicago and Philadelphia—would be a very effective response to childhood hunger.
“NYC has the biggest public school system in the nation, with 1.1 million students, and 75 percent are eligible for free or reduced price lunch,” observes Liz Accles, Community Food Advocate’s executive director. [...] “But about one third, or 250,000, of those eligible children don’t participate; the poverty stigma associated with the program is too great. What this means is that children just sit out, and don’t eat.”
Mark-Viverito Aims at Trump in Final State of the City
February 16, 2017 - Politico by Gloria Pazmino
“When equal rights come under attack, when women are threatened, and when it seems as though we are being plunged back into the dark ages, we march, we protest, we come together and we unite to beat back the blunt forces of ignorance, sexism and misogyny,” Mark-Viverito will say according to speech excerpts.
As her term draws to an end — because of term limits she cannot run for reelection to the Council — MarkViverito will highlight some of the Council’s signature issues, including funding for universal free school lunch and a request for the mayor to increase funding for the city’s Emergency Food Assistance program by $14 million.
Publicly Financed ‘Know Your Rights’ Education for Undocumented Immigrants Coming to NYC Under Council Speaker’s Plan
February 16, 2017 - The Observer by Will Bredderman
“Threats of mass deportations risk undermining the safety, stability and economic growth we’ve fought so hard to achieve,” Mark Viverito, a Puerto Rico native said. “It would tear families apart, and would do nothing to improve public safety. The familiar faces on your morning commute. The family who owns your favorite diner. The young girl who plays with your daughter at school. These are the lives that would be destroyed.”
The speaker also outlined other left-wing proposals, including providing publicly funded birth control to all women, universal free school lunch and putting more public school teachers through sensitivity and diversity training.
Mayor Bill De Blasio’s budget for NYC — and re-election
January 25, 2017 - AM New York by The Editorial Board
If NYC’s proposed budget and capital plan for fiscal year 2018 are any indication, Mayor Bill de Blasio has transformed from the progressive mayor with big plans to the practical mayor ready to make small but important fixes.
Missing are lofty promises and funds for big ideas like universal free school lunch and half-fare MetroCards.
Free Lunch on the Menu
January 5, 2017 - United Federation of Teachers by Michael Murphy
The UFT and other members of the Lunch 4 Learning coalition on Dec. 15 delivered to City Hall more than 9,000 postcards from public school parents asking to fund free school lunch for all 1.1 million New York City public school children.
Currently, more than 76 percent of city students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on household income. Supporters of universal free lunch say the current income requirement creates a stigma that puts many children in the position of choosing between going hungry or feeling ashamed.
In New York City Schools, No Such Thing As Universal Free Lunch
December 14, 2016 - City and State by Pamela Stewart Martinez
Currently, there are schools in higher income communities throughout the city with universal free school lunch, and schools in lower income communities without it. The Department of Education is not providing equal resources to all of its students, and these resources have a direct correlation to students’ ability to academically succeed. In many cases, the application process is itself the barrier to access to food, for the children who need the most. If all schools had universal free school lunch, there would never be a question about enrollment, or a concern about family income.
This is a very personal issue for me because I was one these children. Except in my case, my parents who raised me were frightened to fill out the school lunch form. While others were eating school lunch, I did not. It is stunning to me that 35 years later, the cycle continues. Too many children are not eating lunch for varied reasons, most beyond their control.
UFT part of coalition seeking free lunch for all students
December 1, 2016 - United Federation of Teachers by Michael Murphy
For most public school students in New York City, the old adage holds true: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But a coalition of labor unions including the UFT, food advocates, elected officials and educators is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to change that.
The group gathered on the City Hall steps on Nov. 16 for a press conference asking the mayor to make good on his campaign promise to fund free school lunch for all of the city’s 1.1 million public school children. Advocates contend that the income requirement for free lunch now creates a stigma, forcing many children to choose between feeling ashamed or going hungry.
Push for Healthy Student Eating Extends Beyond School Meals
November 30, 2016 - Gotham Gazette by Milka Nissinen
Studies show that food quality has an impact on children’s learning and mental growth. According to the American Psychological Association, “A hungry child between the age of 6 and 12 is more likely to receive special education services, repeat a grade in school or receive mental health counseling, than a child who is not hungry.”
There have been efforts in New York City to see implementation of universal free school lunch to help ensure every student eats during the day, to improve the healthfulness of the food that is offered in schools, to make sure that students have access to healthy snacks, and to allow students to eat “breakfast after the bell” inside their classrooms, not just the cafeteria before school begins. These initiatives have been implemented to varying degrees.
CityViews: New York City Kids Need Free School Lunch for All
November 28, 2016 - City Limits by Liz Accles
Now more than ever it is urgent that that Mayor de Blasio honor his campaign promise to implement Universal Free School Lunch in all New York City public schools. As a mayoral candidate in 2013, he was resolute that this program is “crucial,” proclaiming, “I think we’re missing an opportunity to use available federal funding to make school lunches free, and I think we have to end any stigma around school lunches and universalize it.” We are counting on him to stand by his word.
We are certain that the mayor continues to stand by the principle that food access is a good investment, and that food is as essential as books when it comes to learning. We know he, too, believes that income should not divide students in NYC’s public schools.
The free lunch all our kids deserve: Why is NYC far behind so many other cities?
November 28, 2016 - New York Daily News by Henry Garrido, Michael Mulgrew, and Ernest Logan
We know we speak for all teachers, principals and school staff when we say that our greatest holiday wish is that we never see another hungry child in our public schools again. While there is very little we can do in the hours when students leave our care, it is imperative that we use whatever power we do have to make sure that during the school day, every student has access to nutritious food.
Mayor de Blasio must keep his campaign promise to bring universal free school lunch to New York City public school students.
School Unions Urge Mayor to Give All Students Free Lunch
November 18, 2016 - Labor Press by Steven Wishnia
There is such a thing as a free lunch, New York City’s education unions contend—and they say it wouldn’t cost that much to give one to all public-school students.
At dusk in front of City Hall Nov. 16, a group of about 150 people—parents, a dozen-odd students, and members of Local 372 of DC 37, the United Federation of Teachers, and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators—urged Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to put money for “universal feeding,” free meals for all students, in next year’s city budget.
City Hall rally held to urge Mayor de Blasio to fund universal free lunch for NYC public school students
November 16, 2016 - New York Daily News by Erin Durkin and Ben Chapman
Dozens of educators, advocates and elected officials turned out for a rally Wednesday at City Hall urging Mayor de Blasio to fund universal free lunches for all the city’s 1.1 million public school kids.
De Blasio vowed to tackle the issue on the campaign trail but has so far failed to implement a free lunch program.
Mayor Should Fund Universal Free Lunch Before Trump Takes Office: Advocates
November 16, 2016 - DNAinfo by Amy Zimmer
The time for Mayor Bill de Blasio to approve universal free lunch for all New York City public students is now — especially since the bulk of the program’s costs are fronted by the federal government, and there are many unknowns about whether such policies might change under a Trump presidency, advocates say.
De Blasio pledged during his 2013 campaign to provide universal free lunch, but has failed to do so, much to the dismay of many parents, union leaders and elected officials supporting the Lunch 4 Learning campaign, which repeated its plea Wednesday.
What happens when you 'lunch shame' a child?
September 22, 2016 - ABC10 by Alexa Renee, KXTV
Skipping a nutritional lunch can lead to more than just negative effects in the classroom.
A hungry child between the age of 6 and 12 is more likely to receive special education services, repeat a grade in school or receive mental health counseling, than a child who is not hungry, according to the American Psychological Association.
An Abbreviated History of School Lunch in America
September 19, 2016 - TIME by Emelyn Rude
Around the beginning of the 20th century, experts recognized that feeding students could be a crucial part of education reform.
As America’s youngsters begin yet another school year, so too will surely begin again the annual debate over what those kids are eating. School lunches today are, to put it mildly, a source of much controversy—but this has not always been the case.
Skipping Meals, Joining Gangs: How Teens Cope Without Enough Food At Home
September 15, 2016 - NPR by Natalie Jacewicz
Roughly 7 million children in the U.S. aged 10-17 struggle with hunger, according to one report, which examines teenage access to food. Dogged by hunger, teenagers may try a wide range of solutions, from asking friends for meals to bartering sex for food.
...What can be done to improve the plight of food-insecure teenagers? Popkin says simply extending elementary meal programs to teenagers could be a start, as well as increasing portions with age.
Food Fight: Rachael Ray Takes on New York City Over Free Student Lunches
June 6, 2016 - FOX Business by Marissa Piazzola
Rachael Ray, celebrity chef and talk show host, wants every New York City public school student to have a free lunch. “No child should go hungry due to stigma and bullying in the lunchroom,” Ray told FOXBusiness.com.
And her cause is gaining momentum: A petition on Change.org started last week has garnered over 30,000 signatures, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to provide free lunches to all public school students.
Rachael Ray Fights for Free Lunch in Public Schools: Every Kid ‘Deserves the Means to a Nutritious Meal’
June 3, 2016 - PEOPLE by Mollie Cahillane
Rachael Ray is usually concerned with what we’re eating—but this week, as she launches a campaign to help make sure all New York City public school kids have access to a free lunch program, she is focusing on kids and what they’renot eating.
“Any human, young or old, deserves the means to a nutritious meal,” Ray, 47, tells PEOPLE. “It’s scary to think that there are families and children that wake up in the morning and don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
Rachael Ray joins campaign calling on city to expand free lunch to all NYC public school students
June 2, 2016 - Metro New York by Angy Altamirano
In an effort to make a final push to the city, celebrity chef Rachael Ray has joined forces with the Lunch 4 Learning campaign to provide all students with free lunch, despite their family's income.
The daytime cooking show host officially launched a petition via Change.org calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to make lunch free at all city public schools in hopes of bringing an end to bullying, income stigma and food insecurity children face.
An estimated 75 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school children have family incomes low enough to be eligible for free or reduced priced school lunch — below $37,000 for a household of three — but many choose to sit out of it because they have either been ridiculed or fear being singled out by peers.
Rachael Ray Urges de Blasio to Make Good on Free Lunch Vow in City Schools
June 1, 2016 - DNA info by Amy Zimmer
Rachael Ray wants your help to stop New York City’s children from going hungry.
The TV show host and author announced Wednesday the official launch of a petition urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to make good on his 2013 campaign promise and expand universal free lunch to the city’s 1.1 million public school students.
The celebrity’s efforts — done in conjunction with the Lunch 4 Learning campaign — has already garnered more than 26,000 signatures.
Families should not be shamed over school lunch
May 24, 2016 - Staten Island Advance by Miguel Rodriguez
Two of Mayor Bill de Blasio's major goals for his administration are to reduce food insecurity and increase public school parent engagement in their children's education. However, many parents limit their time at their children's school because they fear being approached by school officials for money they owe for school lunch fees.
Many families in New York City do not meet the federal guidelines for their children to qualify for free lunch, but they still earn too little to pay for school lunch. The income cut-off for the free/reduced lunch program is $37,296.00 for a family of three. An increasing number of families are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck and are struggling hard to make ends meet in this increasingly expensive city.Each week, these families are faced with the reality of having to stretch their last dollar. And while to some New Yorkers $1.75 per child, per day for school lunch may not seem like a lot, many families simply don't have it.
A Teen's Plea For Universal Free School Lunch
April 30, 2016 - Forbes by Nancy Fink Huehnergarth
"Sometimes a teenager writes something so insightful that we all should read it. High school senior Aminata Abdouramane's post for Chalkbeat, 'How the shame of 'free-free' inspired my push for universal free lunch,' is one of those occasions."
First Person: How the shame of ‘free-free’ inspired my push for universal free lunch
April 27, 2016 - Chalkbeat by Aminata Abdouramane
In public school cafeterias across New York City, many students play a game of hide and seek, trying desperately to be invisible. Why? Because they want to avoid being bullied by their classmates for being poor enough to qualify for free lunch, which in our world is known as “free-free.”
My name is Aminata Abdouramane, and I am in the 12th grade at the Academy of Urban Planning at the Bushwick Campus in Brooklyn. I know this game all too well, as I was once that bullied student in the cafeteria
City Council will dance for free lunch (and other budget goodies)
April 27, 2016 - Crain's New York Business by Rosa Goldensohn
In a joint statement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Committee Chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said the council would push to fund summer and year-round job programs for young people, legal services for immigrants, and workforce development. Free lunch in public schools, a priority for some city politicians and nonprofits, was also missing from the mayor's budget.
Such a Thing as a Free Lunch--for all School Kids
April 25, 2016 - Huffington Post by David Sandman
In the next few weeks, parents across New York City will receive notices about prekindergarten slots for children attending school this fall. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, universal pre-K became a reality for children across New York two years ago. The first year of the program was a success, with 92% of parents in NYC rating their child’s experience as good or excellent. Universal pre-K helped make New York a leader in the movement toward better education and greater equity.
If we want to ensure that our kids get off to a healthy start and are ready to learn, there is a natural next step: providing universal school lunch as well as universal prekindergarten.
In this land of plenty, a hungry child is among the starkest symbols of inequality. A hungry child can’t learn or realize her full potential.
Op-Ed: Campaign For In-School Universal Free Lunch
March 13, 2016 - The Bronx Chronicle by Letitia James
There is a such thing as a free lunch and we know that thousands of the most vulnerable children in New York City would greatly benefit from it.
The facts are clear: children who are well-fed are more focused and perform better in school. But nearly 250,000 income eligible New York City students do not participate in free school lunch programs and it is even worse in high school where the participation rates dip below 40 percent. But it’s not because these kids aren’t hungry. Too often they are ashamed of standing in a separate line for lunch and the stigma that comes with it of being poor.
And this problem is especially apparent in the Bronx, where almost 30 percent of residents live at or below the poverty line and where the majority of homeless students attend school.
Parents call for mayor to fund free lunch for all students
March 11, 2016 - SI Live by Diane C. Lore
The Lunch 4 Learning Parent Caucus -- a coalition of parents and school districts throughout the city -- is pushing for the mayor to expand universal free lunch for every city public school student.
The move, they say, would put an end to "income stigma" in the lunchroom, and help all students thrive in the classroom.
In February, the group delivered a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio -- signed on to by Community Education Council 31 President Mike Reilly and Miguel Rodriguez, president of the Staten Island Federation of PTAs -- urging the mayor to expand the program in his executive budget, as well as to request a meeting to discuss what they see as the program's benefits to not only students and families, but also to the city.
Call for Mayor de Blasio to Expand Universal Free School Lunch to all NYC Public School Students
March 11, 2016 - New York City Progressive Caucus
On Thursday, March 10th, the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign’s Parent Caucus–a coalition of parents from every public school citywide parent leadership body and over 20 diverse school districts—were joined by Progressive Caucus members, Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James at a press conference on the steps of City Hall to call on Mayor de Blasio to keep his promise to end income stigma in school cafeterias by expanding universal free school lunch to all public school students.
Full expansion of the program from stand alone middle schools to city-wide will only cost $3.6 million, and Community Food Advocates estimates the city will receive $22.6 million in additional federal and state reimbursements due to increased participation and a favorable reimbursement structure under the federal Community Eligibility Provision. In addition, universal free lunch will alleviate the financial burden on families struggling to make ends meet, saving families approximately $900/year per child, and will create hundreds more jobs.
Electeds, advocates renew push for free lunch pilot expansion
March 10, 2016 - Politico New York by Eliza Shapiro
Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and anti-hunger advocates are renewing their push for Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand his free lunch program for city schoolchildren.
During a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, the elected officials and advocates called on the mayor to expand an existing free lunch pilot program to all city schools.
James and others have made universal free lunch a budget priority for the last two years, convening frequent press conferences with various advocates and City Councilmembers to scold the mayor for not providing free lunch for the city's many low-income students. Though many students already qualify for free or reduced-price lunch if their families live at or below the poverty line, advocates say extending the program to all students will reduce stigma associated with the program.
Piden almuerzo gratuito para todos los estudiantes en NYC
10 Marzo, 2016 - El Diario por David Ramirez
Una coalición de líderes comunitarios y padres de familia de al menos 20 distritos escolares, junto a la defensora del pueblo Letitia James, pidieron este jueves al alcaldeBill de Blasio que cumpla su promesa y extienda el almuerzo escolar universal a todos los estudiantes de las escuelas públicas de la ciudad de Nueva York.
En su presupuesto para el 2016 el Alcalde sólo incluyó el dar almuerzos a los alumnos de enseñanza intermedia, y por eso en esa oportunidad la coalición también insistió en la necesidad de que el plan se extendiera a todos los 1.1 millones de estudiantes de la ciudad.
Parents and advocates call on Mayor de Blasio to fulfill campaign promise of free school lunches for all city schools
March 6, 2016 - New York Daily News by Ben Chapman
A broad coalition of parents and advocates is calling on Mayor de Blasio to fulfill his campaign promise of free school lunches for all city students.
The group, which calls itself the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign’s Parent Caucus, delivered a letter to de Blasio in support of universal free school lunch on Feb. 18.
De Blasio called universal free lunch a crucial project at a September 2013 campaign stop, but failed to fund the project in his 2016 budget.
There is such a thing as free lunch--and City Hall should let kids have it
February 19, 2016 - Crain's New York by Letitia James and Liz Accles
No child in our city should go hungry at school. Universal free lunch—offered in major cities including Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, and the District of Columbia—is critical to making sure all students are focused and ready to learn. Yet here in New York, efforts to provide children with the universal lunch they need to thrive are stalled at the highest levels of City Hall.
In his 2017 preliminary budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that the city’s wage growth has disproportionately benefited the wealthy, leaving low-income New Yorkers behind. Yet he did not mention anything about universal free lunch, which would be one of the most effective, far-reaching and fiscally responsible anti-hunger initiatives the city could undertake.
Offering free lunch to all New York City public school students—through a federal incentive program called the Community Eligibility Provision—will eliminate the income divide in cafeterias, ease the workload for school staff and cost only an additional $3.6 million a year after state and federal reimbursements. And for many of our children, it will provide the only full meal they get all day.
Advocates say City should expand free lunch faster
October 9, 2015 - City Limits by Ruth Ford
Nearly three years after Hurricane Sandy propelled the city's Department of Education to briefly offer free lunch to all its students to ease some of the storm’s massive disruption in the months afterward, the DOE is inching toward permanent expanding access to school food, slowly enrolling in a new federal program to give more students a free lunch. But the DOE could move faster, and economically smarter, activists say.
...According to Community Food Advocates, which uses data from the DOE, 780,000 students out of the system's 1.147 million students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Fully one-third of students who are eligible for free lunch do not, however, eat lunch. The children don’t eat either because of the perceived stigma of receiving free food, bring their own food, go out at lunchtime or don’t eat lunch at all.
City students urge mayor to fund free lunch for all public school kids
June 21, 2015 - New York Daily News by John Spina
A group of high school and middle school students have a message for Mayor de Blasio — it's time to fund universal free lunch for all public schoolkids.
The students, representing a youth advocacy group, will present a letter to the mayor Tuesday in support of the program, which he failed to fund in the city budget.
"Some of my friends mentally struggle everyday, saying, 'I have $2. Should I pay for lunch or pencils or pens,'" said Tianhao Zhang, 17, a junior at Francis Lewis High School in Flushing and founder of Teenergetic, one of the student groups fighting for free lunch.
Pols call on Bill de Blasio to extend free lunch to all city school kids
May 28, 2015 - New York Daily News by Ben Chapman, Chris Sommerfeldt
Elected officials called on Mayor de Blasio Wednesday to extend free lunches to all 1.1 million city school kids.
Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council education honcho Daniel Dromm said during a demonstration Wednesday that offering free meals reduces the stigma faced by 75% of students who already qualify for them under federal guidelines — and de Blasio should pay for it all in the 2016 city budget.
Piden expandir programas de almuerzos gratuitos en escuelas en NYC
May 28, 2015 - El Diario por Juan Garnham
Un aumento en los almuerzos gratuitos que ofrecen las escuelas pidió este miércoles la defensora pública Letitia James, junto a políticos, padres, profesores, profesionales y activistas de la campaña Learning 4 Lunch.
“Desafortunadamente, miles de estudiantes de familias de bajos ingresos no participan en los programas de almuerzos gratuitos por miedo a ser vistos como pobres. Expandir esto a todas las escuelas públicas es una inversión de sentido común, que quitará el estigma”, dijo James.
James pushes, again, for universal free lunch
May 27, 2015 - Capital New York by Eliza Shapiro
Public Advocate Letitia James and some members of the City Council are continuing to push Mayor Bill de Blasio to implement universal free lunch in city schools, even after the mayor said he will not expand the program in this year's executive budget.
James, along with Council members Daniel Dromm, Andy King, Brad Lander and Ben Kallos and child hunger advocates, held a press conference outside the Department of Education headquarters on Wednesday during which they called on de Blasio to include free lunch for all city schoolchildren in the final budget.
Exigen almuerzo gratuito en todas las escuelas públicas de NYC
May 27, 2015 - NY1/NY1 Noticias por Jonathan Inoa
Líderes políticos y educadores protestaron frente al Departamento de Educación pidiendo almuerzo escolar universal para todos los estudiante de las escuelas públicas que lo necesiten. Precisamente allí se encuentra nuestro compañero Jonathan Inoa con los detalles.
‘Shocked and Disappointed': Public Advocate Rips de Blasio Over Free School Lunch
May 27, 2015 - The New York Observer by Will Bredderman
Public Advocate Letitia James—normally a reliable de Blasio ally—today tore into the mayor for opposing free school lunches for all New York City public school students.
Ms. James, a longtime advocate for universal midday meals, attacked Mayor Bill de Blasio’s claim that a pilot program launched last year granting free food to all middle school students has had “mixed results.” The public advocate pointed to a study by the nonprofit Lunch for Learning indicating that between 10,000 and 15,000 additional intermediate school pupils had taken advantage of the program.
Free Lunch: There is Such a Thing
May 16, 2015 - City and State by Letitia James
Universal free lunch in New York City middle schools is working, so why are there no plans to expand this vital program in this year’s city budget?
We know the facts: Well-fed children are more focused and do better academically. But it is estimated that nearly 250,000 income-eligible New York City students do not participate in free school lunch programs—with participation rates dipping below 40 percent by high school. And it’s not because they are not hungry, but because they are ashamed of being stigmatized for being poor.
More Students Eat Lunch After Free Meal Program Adopted
March 23, 2015 - The Wall Street Journal by Mara Gay
The percentage of middle school students eating lunch rose by more than 8% after New York City adopted a free meal program, according to a new study.
The report found that participation rates in the lunch program in Sept. 2014, when the program began, was 2.9% higher than in Sept. 2013. The percentage of middle school students eating lunch was 8.9% higher in October 2014 than a year earlier, 8.6% higher in November and 9.7% in December, according to the report.
The analysis was done by Community Food Advocates, a nonprofit that lobbies for universal free school lunches.
September 10, 2014 - The Riverdale Press by Maya Rajamani
The start of the school year on Sept. 4 brought a number of big firsts — from universal pre-k to free lunch at every middle school — for public school students in Riverdale and the rest of the city.
The Sheila Mencher School (P.S. 95) on Hillman Avenue invited parents of 18 children participating in the pre-k program to join their students inside. The students’ enthusiasm appeared to be contagious.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Jessica Garcia, the mother of a preschooler at P.S. 95...
September 1, 2014 Silive.com
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Students in Staten Island intermediate schools will find something new on their plate when they go back to school next week: Free lunch.
Sixth, seventh and eighth-graders at a dozen Island schools will be eligible for the free meals, regardless of family income, under the Department of Education's Universal Free Lunch initiative. Funding for the program was approved by the City Council in June as part of the city budget.
Advocates for the program Friday called it historic.
"This is an incredibly transformative moment for middle-school students, who will grow up with a school lunch program," declared Lisa Accles, executive director of Community Food Advocates....
August 2014 New York City Food Policy Center
When school starts this September, school lunch will be served free of charge to any NYC middle school student who wants one. The free-for-all system will replace the current means-tested approach for the city’s approximately 170,000 middle schoolers in all of its nearly 300 middle schools. I welcome this crucial first step first step toward providing universal free lunches to all NYC public school students. On any given day, there are about a quarter million students in the city’s schools who are eligible for free meals but do not eat them, and thousands more who are not income eligible but are still in need. Social stigma deters many of those eligible to eat free, and cost makes the meals out of reach for others. The Lunch 4 Learning Campaign led by Community Food Advocates which has mobilized support for an end to the school food means test has achieved a major victory! Much of the credit should go to the Public Advocate for her outspoken support, and to the NYC City Council, which, under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, included funds in its budget to begin city-wide implementation of universal free meals...
May 14, 2014 The Daily News by Erin Durkin
Even buddies can butt heads.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she’s ready to battle her ally Mayor de Blasio over his snub of Council proposals to hire more cops and give all city schoolkids free lunch.
In his budget last week, de Blasio avoided the cuts to libraries and firehouses that the Council has routinely restored in past administrations — freeing the pols to instead try to push for other causes.
The Council proposed $94 million to hire 1,000 new officers and $24 million to extend free lunch to all students — but de Blasio left both ideas out of his executive budget last week.
“We will continue to fight for that, and I feel strongly about those two issues,” Mark-Viverito said.
May 14, 2014 - The Riverdale Press - Maya Rajamani
“On the bigger scale citywide, I absolutely see the need for it,” said Ms. Milton. “You notice the difference in children’s attention span and their engagement after lunch when they’ve had a well-balanced meal.”
Ms. Milton said many of the arguments against free lunch are similar to those voiced when the free breakfast program launched in city schools. Since AmPark’s inception in 2011, the school has offered free breakfast.
Approximately 120 of its 324 students take part in the program on average each day, with another 25 or so participating in the “grab ‘n go” breakfast the school offers, which provides students who arrive too late for free breakfast with a meal to eat in class.
Lunch for all, and a stigma for none
May 8, 2014 - Daily News - Lisa Hines Johnson
I remember all too well my first few weeks at my new public high school in the Bronx 27 years ago — standing on the lunch line with my lunch tickets. There was lots of snickering, laughter and smart comments: about “eating nasty school lunch,” about not having money. There were loud, embarrassing questions (not meant to solicit an answer) about why we were on the “cheese line” (a reference to the times when people on food stamps would get blocks of free cheese).
By the end of the first quarter, I was forgoing that lunch for a bag of chips and a “quarter water” (sugar water) to avoid the ridicule and arguments with kids who chose to embarrass those of us who used our tickets.
Like me, far too many children today are forgoing meals that they can ill afford to lose because of the stigma of being identified as “the poor kid.” Instead, they run out of school looking for cheap snacks or bodega fare, which is far less healthy than the meals prepared in the school cafeteria. Or they go without lunch altogether.
Tune in at 18:44 to hear Brian Lehrer discuss the Lunch4Learning campaign. Vanessa Gibson, Chair of the NYC Council Public Safety Committee, joins BrianLehrer to discuss her support for universal free lunches.
Celebrity chefs are turning up the heat on Mayor de Blasio — urging him to fork over funding so city schools can provide free lunches to all students.
Television personality Rachael Ray, “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio and a host of other notable cooks say free lunch for all would eliminate the shame kids feel if their families can’t afford to pay.
“You’re taking away that stigma of the poor and making it a level playing field for everybody, and that’s supposed to be the promise of the de Blasio administration,” Ray said in an exclusive interview with the Daily News.
“Well, this is a great way for him to put his money where his mouth is.
When I was young and lived in Cape Cod with my grandfather, he sent me to school every day with a homemade sandwich. That changed when I got to middle and high school in Lake George, N.Y., and we would just eat what was made for us in the cafeteria. Lunch back then was 40 cents and everyone had a big hot meal. We had lunch ladies we loved, and they cooked real food. It was a social, loving, wonderful experience. They served everything — chicken with crispy noodles on top, and pizza day was always a big deal. It was very good food. If we wanted something extra, like chocolate milk or french fries, we would have to pay a little bit more — about 50 cents more. We didn’t stress about who’s on this line or who’s on that line. It was a different time.
April 25, 2014 - Grub Street - Clint Rainey
City Hall is contemplating a universal free-school-lunch program for students, and an advocacy group called Lunch 4 Learninghas done some first-rate work snagging food-celeb endorsements to build on the flavor profile of its central mission. Chef (and activist) Tom Colicchio, Rachael Ray, ABC Kitchen's Dan Kluger, and Johnathan Adler of Franny's have all come out swinging in support of the plan, the a Daily News reports, in an effort to get funding allocated. "Taking away that stigma of the poor and making it a level playing field for everybody," says Rachael Ray, is "supposed to be the promise of the de Blasio administration."
The City Council’s proposed budget to be unveiled Wednesday will push for two big priorities: free lunch for all public school kids and 1,000 new cops.The Council is asking for $24 million to provide lunches regardless of how much money kids’ families make.They’re also seeking $94 million to boost the police force to more than 36,400 cops, among other changes proposed to Mayor de Blasio’s budget.
Backers of the universal lunch program say the proposal would end the stigma that some poor kids feel when they line up for free lunch.
“Too many children in our city go hungry each day,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Universal school lunch is an investment in our children and will ensure all students are able to eat a healthy, nutritious meal.”
April 23, 2014 - New York Times - Kate Taylor
The New York City Council is urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer free lunch to all public school students, hire 1,000 more police officers and expand the summer job program for teenagers.
These are three of the biggest-ticket items among $257 million in new spending that the Council has asked Mr. de Blasio to include in his May 8 executive budget. In his preliminary budget, the mayor proposed $73.7 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Led by the city’s public advocate, Letitia James, supporters have been pushing since last fall for the city to eliminate all fees for school lunches, arguing that students who qualify for free lunch are often stigmatized by their classmates.
Some 780,000 of the city’s 1.1 million public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, but only 530,000 are currently enrolled in the program, supporters said.
Students who testified before the Council in March described their peers’ being mocked for lining up to get “free-free,” as the program is derisively called. Supporters argue that making school lunch free for everyone would remove the stigma, and that children would no longer turn down the lunch to avoid ridicule.
The Council estimated the added expense would be $20 million to $24 million, with the rest being covered by state and federal aid.
Many UFT members have undoubtedly worked with the hungry child who has trouble concentrating or staying on task.
Over time, a child who is persistently undernourished can suffer serious developmental and learning delays.
In New York City, three out of four students in public schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. But nearly a third of those eligible — 250,000 students — don’t participate in the program. In addition, many families whose incomes are just above the $36,000 eligibility threshold are not able to take advantage of the meals served every day at their schools.
That is a wasted opportunity to get the children the nourishment they need.
Free-for-All in the Cafeteria
April 9, 2014 - New York Times - Editorial Board
More than a million children attend public schools in New York City. About 780,000 of them are poor enough to qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. Getting into the program requires some paperwork, which is a burden but not a terrible one; the application is just one page. So why do so many eligible children — about 250,000 — not participate?
The problem, advocates for schoolchildren say, isn’t so much aversion to themenu — today across the city, it’s roast turkey, stewed beans, sweet plantains and an oatmeal raisin cookie (plus chickpea salad, for high schoolers) — as it is the embarrassment and bullying that come from being identified as poor, from being seen taking the “free-free,” the derisive nickname New York school children give to subsidized lunches.
A stigma is an anecdotal phenomenon, but advocates say it’s real, pervasive and borne out by school-lunch participation rates, which plummet as children get older. It’s 81 percent in elementary school, 61 percent in middle school and 38 percent in high school. Many teenagers, it seems safe to assume, would rather go hungry or eat junk from vending machines than get caught in the wrong line for turkey and beans.
Public Advocate Letitia James wants all NYC public school kids to receive free lunch
March 12, 2014 - Daily News - Corinne Lestch
All public school kids should get free lunch, Public Advocate Letitia James said Tuesday — even those whose families can afford to pay. About 530,000 low-income students are currently enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program. Another 250,000 city students are eligible but do not participate, James said. “There is a poverty stigma associated with school-provided lunch,” said James. “We have children standing on two separate lines to get food — those who are paying and those who are not. That is why we’re here to announce our plans for free lunch for every public school student, and to eliminate that stigma.”
Among families who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch but don’t participate, she said some parents may hesitate to fill out the paperwork because they are embarrassed, or they are unaware of the program. Others may be undocumented immigrants who are simply afraid to fill out any official paperwork. Families of four with an annual income below $30,615 are entitled to free lunch, while those whose family income is below $43,568 get reduced-price lunch. Children whose families receive food stamps or are on Medicaid or welfare automatically qualify for free meals.If another 250,000 students got free lunches, the city tab would rise from $37 million to $77 million. The funds would come out of the city Education Department’s $25 billion budget, James said. The bulk of the cost of free school meals is reimbursed by the federal government.James did not give a figure for the cost if all 1.1 million children in city public schools got free lunch.
She urged Mayor de Blasio to act as soon as possible — and not to wait until next school year. “The city must change the current system of how our children are fed in public schools,” she said. If New York did offer free lunch to all schoolkids, it would join other cities that already do so.
Dallas and Chicago offer every public school student free lunch regardless of family income. Boston also joined the program, called the community eligibility option, last year. The initiative was launched in 2010 as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act.
The mayor’s office did not say if or when the plan would be implemented, but Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said she welcomes the idea.
Public Advocate Wants To Provide Free Lunch For All Students
March 11, 2014 - NY1
Public Advocate Letitia James on Tuesday announced a proposal that would provide free lunch for all New York City public school students. She says it would makes it easier for parents to sign up and would ease fears for undocumented families who often refuse to file paperwork.
The proposal could also bring more money into the city if more students participate in the program.Right now, it's funded with federal and state dollars while the city covers the remaining balance.James is asking the mayor to allocate $57 million for the project.
That's $20 million more than the city pays right now. "Twenty-million dollars. Out of a budget of $25 billion. Clearly we can afford $20 million to feed children. It's important to know that we already feed them but we're just not reimbursed from the federal government. So it's a win win for all of us," James said. The proposal requires only the mayor's approval.James says Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to working with them.Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina says she's on board with the proposal as well.
Plan proposed to provide free lunch to all New York City public school students
March 11, 2014 - Metro - Anna Sanders
The brown bag could be bagged in New York City schools under a new plan. Advocates renewed efforts Tuesday to provide free lunch to all public school students, proposing a plan to increase participation by 20 percent.
“Every child should be guaranteed access to healthy food during the school day,” Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement. “We know that when children are hungry, they are less likely to be attentive in class.”
The public advocate’s office estimates that the plan would cost the city $20 million of the Department of Education’s roughly $25 billion budget, assuming reimbursement from the federal government. Advocates said the plan would also increase the number of those kids already eligible for free lunch unwilling to participate.
“De-linking school lunch from family income will rid the program of the poverty stigma that negatively impacts participation, especially as children get older,” Community Food Advocates head Liz Accles said in a statement. According to the public advocate’s office, roughly 780,000 or 75 percent of public school students are currently eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. An estimated 250,000 students don’t participate.
James said she has spoken with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration about the need to find resources to pay for universal free lunch. In a statement, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said, “All children deserve a healthy meal at lunch.”
Food advocates renew support for free public school lunches
March 11, 2014 - News 12
NEW YORK - There's a renewed push to provide free lunches to all public school students in New York City.Public Advocate Letitia James and other supporters headed to City Hall today to rally for the proposal.More than 75 percent of public school students, or an estimated 780,000 kids, are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.However, food advocates say that about 250,000 of those eligible don't participate because of the poverty stigma associated with school lunch.
Public Advocate Supports Universal Free School Lunch More students participate when stigma of being poor removed
March 11, 2014 - Epoch Times - Yi Yang
NEW YORK—Public Advocate Letitia James is calling for universal free lunch for public school students. The proposal, if realized, will cost the city an additional $20 million per year, or about $20 per student.
The federal government subsidizes free or reduced school lunch programs. The city can get more federal funding if more students sign up for school lunch. However, even with a larger subsidy, the Department of Education (DOE) will have to fill in the gap.
In the 2011-2012 school year, the city spent $37 million on school meals. The federal government handled the bulk of the cost, providing nearly $298 million. Lunch fees collected from students amounted to $10 million.
If lunch fees are eliminated for all students starting in the coming school year, the city will have to pay approximately $57 million for school meals. “We’re basically talking about $20 million more in a budget in the DOE, which is $25 billion,” said James at a press conference Tuesday. She added that Mayor Bill de Blasio is working to find the resources to fund this proposal.
Students from households with an income of $36,000 or less for a family of three are eligible for free or reduced lunch. About 75 percent of city public school students are eligible, but not every student takes advantage of it...