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On the steps of theTweed Courthouse, members of  Lunch 4 Learning Campaign including Council Members Danny Dromm, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Education, Ben Kallos, Brad Lander and Public Advocate Letitia James urged Mayor de Blasio to include universal free lunch for all public school children in the final city budget for 2016.

The press conference came ahead of a City Council budget hearing today, and in direct response to the Mayor incorrectly stating that the universal free lunch program for middle school students, initiated in September 2014, has produced “mixed results.” In fact, the program has yielded very successful results so far.

Student participation in the universal free school lunch program in middle schools increased by nearly 10% in the first six months of this school year (2014-15) compared to the same period last year (2013-14). Expanding the program from middle school students to all students is the logical next step. This expansion will help many students who would otherwise go hungry. According to a new report from the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign, if universal free school lunch is offered in all schools, an additional 120,000 students will eat school lunch each day. Full Release

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“We must make sure city students have the resources they need to succeed,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Universal free lunch will ensure that students are well-nourished and alert during the school day and the City Council will continue to advocate to support funding for this important program.

“Free lunch for all ensures that no child is left hungry due to stigma,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Students perform best when they are not hungry. Offering free lunch to all our students pays for itself in many ways and should be implemented citywide.”

“No student should go hungry in one of the wealthiest cities in the world,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We must offer free to lunch to all 1.1 million public school children to increase participation so students can focus on learning. From cradle to career, no child should have to worry about hunger.”

“Healthy meals are critical to a child’s capacity to learn and they should not be out of reach for any of New York City’s schoolchildren. Universal free school lunches can increase student access and help put every child on a level playing field in the lunchroom and in the classroom,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. 

Want to join the campaign? Sign the petition!

IN THE NEWS

NY Daily News: Pols call on Bill de Blasio to extend free lunch to all city school kids

Capital NY: James pushes, again, for universal free lunch

NY Observer: ‘Shocked and Disappointed’: Public Advocate Rips de Blasio Over Free School Lunch

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