Update: On April 22nd, 37 Council Members sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio encouraging him to fund universal free lunch in this year’s executive budget.
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. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“No student should be stigmatized for eating free lunch. The federal and state reimbursements available mean this program could have a huge impact with a relatively low cost to the City. It’s time that we make sure that no students are going hungry at school,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso.
“Children should not have to worry like I did about having enough money to eat that day or being picked on because they get a free or reduced meal. No child should go hungry in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. A free school lunch should be waiting for every child” said Caucus Vice-Chair, Council Member Ben Kallos.
“Institutionalizing universal free school lunch will help families from all-income levels by reducing stigma and ensuring all students, regardless of background, have access to a nutritious lunch,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “We all know that students can’t succeed in the classroom if they have to worry about having access to food. It’s time to help students achieve maximum potential by securing universal free school lunch.”
“No child deserves to face social stigma for taking advantage of an important program like free school lunch. Expanding these programs to cover all students is a smart, cost-effective way to combat poverty stigma and get more kids eating and ready to learn in our public schools. I urge Mayor de Blasio to follow through on his commitment by bringing universal free school lunch to New York City,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
“Children do not learn and reach their full potential while hungry. Expanding universal free school lunch to all public school students is the right thing to do” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
IN THE NEWS