Join the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign and Public Advocate Letitia James to ensure that all students are well-nourished and ready to learn. We call on Mayor de Blasio to offer free school lunch to all New York City public school students, regardless of income.
Making this change will de-link school food with family income and will get rid of the shame and poverty stigma that greatly impacts participation, especially as children get older:
- Student lunch participation drops with age: 81% in elementary, 61% in middle school, and 38% in high school
- 75% of New York City school students are eligible for free lunch (income under $36,000 for a family of 3)
- Despite need, one-third of the 780,000 students currently eligible for free school lunch don’t participate, largely because of the poverty stigma
We are asking the Mayor to take immediate action:
Step 1: Institute citywide universal free lunch immediately by ending the collection of student fees. No state or federal permission is required.
Step 2: Maximize federal incentive programs that minimize paperwork for schools and maximize federal reimbursements (Provision 2 & Community Eligibility Provision).
We believe that New York City should make the small investment needed so that no student has to pay for a meal. This will have broad citywide impact on reducing student hunger, improving health, and boosting educational outcomes.