New York City Schools Are Offering Free Lunches

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By Cooking Panda

Food-policy advocates and members of the New York City Council are giving away free lunches to the masses, which could probably match Oprah’s car giveaway.

“And you get a free lunch, and you get a free lunch. Everybody gets a free lunch!”

This breakthrough initiative came to New York City public school students in an announcement made by Carmen Farina, the schools chancellor, where she said, “This is about equity. All communities matter.”

Community food advocates have been organizing campaigns to support free food policies to New York City’s schoolchildren, especially in light of national “lunch shaming,” which holds children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills in a manner that would be considered disgraceful in any parent, teacher or adult’s eyes. This move is a huge relief for all New York City families who struggle financially to support the health and education of their children.

According to The New York Times, “The vast majority of New York City public school students are poor.” About 75 percent of those students already qualified for free lunches, but the New York City Council and food-policy advocates revealed that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford their lunch.

City Councilman Ben Kallos grew up on the Upper East Side, attended Bronx High School of Science and shared his story among the attendees at the announcement meeting. His mother was the sole supporter of a single-parent household, with an income low enough to qualify Kallos for reduced-price lunches. Kallos admits to feeling like he had to hide this from his peers by not eating, and that he “had to choose between friends and food. I hope no child makes the same poor choices I did.”

City Council officials said the program will actually not cost the city more money. In fact, the state recently revamped how they track family’s eligibility for benefits like Medicaid, which matched families to the schools their children attended.

The new system was able to identify more families that qualify for the free-lunch federal program, and the numbers were high enough so that the whole city qualifies for universal free lunch. With the average school lunch costing $1.75 per day, the initiative will save families about $300 each year.

Beginning September 7, all 1.1 million students will be able to ring in the new school year with new classes, new friends and teachers, and one less thing to worry about.

Sources: The New York Times (2) / Featured Image: USDA/Flickr

Tags: NYC Public School Free Lunches, NYC Students
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