As New York City students begin their new school year, they have something to look forward to: free school lunches.
The announcement by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña caps off a long campaign by City Council Members and hunger advocates to keep children from going hungry. While the federal school lunch program helped 75% of New York City school kids, some went hungry rather than admit that their families couldn’t afford to pay. As City Councilmember Ben Kallos recounted, “I had to choose between friends and food.”
In previous years, Mayor de Blasio’s administration had resisted calls for free school lunch, citing the high cost. However, New York City recently began matching families receiving Medicaid, the low-cost healthcare plan, to the schools their children went to. That identified more students who qualified for school lunches but didn’t receive them. And the data showing the increased number of children in low-income households pushed NYC schools over the threshold so that every student could receive free lunches under the federal program.
Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch?