In New York City, Free Lunch for All Public School Students

Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

By Ethan L. Johns
September 07, 2017

Image: Susan Watts-Pool / Getty Images

September 7, 2017
— Summer is coming to an end and kids across the US are heading back to school. For some, this means brown-bagged lunches and peanut butter sandwiches. For others, it means lunch money and cafeteria trays. Yet school lunch can be fraught territory for those who cannot afford to bring it from home or purchase it at school. Problem solved, announced New York City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Wednesday; beginning this school year, all public school students in the city will get a free lunch.

In a school district of 1.1 million students of which 75 percent already qualify for federally subsidized school lunches, extending access to all students through the Free School Lunch for All initiative adds equality to the cafeteria both academically and socially.

According to No Kid Hungry, 13 million children in America are food insecure, meaning that their families do not have the financial means to adequately feed themselves. For many, free school lunch is the only source of daily nutrition. But the paperwork for these free meals is sometimes overlooked or incorrectly completed by families in need, which results in hungry students who are unable to pay their lunch bills.

New York City’s move to provide a Free School Lunch for All aims to help students succeed by removing this unnecessary and avoidable source of stress. “We know that students cannot learn or thrive in school if they are hungry all day,” said NYC 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.”

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns