City Announces Free School Lunch Program

BY JAMES FARRELL

This year, school lunch will be free for all public school students in New York City, Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced on Wednesday.

The city will receive a reimbursement from the federal government through the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows school districts to serve lunch to students at no cost.

Additionally, Free School Lunch for All will be available for charter schools and non-public schools who participate in New York City’s SchoolFood program.

“Students need healthy meals to stay focused in school, and it is a major step forward that every New York City student will have access to free breakfast and lunch every day,” Fariña said. “Free School Lunch for All will provide financial relief to families and ensure all students are receiving nutritious meals, so that they can succeed in the classroom and beyond.”

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, 75 percent of students in New York City were eligible for free lunch. The new program will provide more than 200,000 additional students with free lunch. New York City also already has a program providing free breakfast to students.

“We know that students cannot learn or thrive in school if they are hungry all day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Free school lunch will not only ensure that every kid in New York City has the fuel they need to succeed, but also further our goal of providing an excellent and equitable education for all students.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that the council has “pushed hard” for this new program to be implemented.

“With the council’s continued advocacy and support for the DOE and our students, today we are finally able to make universal free lunch a reality for every single student in our public schools,” she said. “I am proud of the work the council has done to make universal free lunch a reality for every single student in our public schools.”

The policy also aims to address concerns that students and families are often more willing to go hungry than face potential bullying or teasing for receiving free lunch.

“No child should go hungry at school,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “We’ve been pushing for universal school lunch for years and to see it come to fruition is exciting for our children, families and educators. As we begin a new school year, this initiative will ensure that every child has access to free, nutritious lunch.”

More than one million public school students in New York City returned to school on Thursday.

Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, jfarrell@queenstribune.com or @farrellj329.

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