Plan proposed to provide free lunch to all New York City public school students

school lunch
New York City public school students might be able to bag the bag lunch under a new proposal.
Credit: Carol Guzy/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The brown bag could be bagged in New York City schools under a new plan.

Advocates renewed efforts Tuesday to provide free lunch to all public school students, proposing a plan to increase participation by 20 percent.

“Every child should be guaranteed access to healthy food during the school day,” Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement. “We know that when children are hungry, they are less likely to be attentive in class.”

The public advocate’s office estimates that the plan would cost the city $20 million of the Department of Education’s roughly $25 billion budget, assuming reimbursement from the federal government.

Advocates said the plan would also increase the number of those kids already eligible for free lunch unwilling to participate.

“De-linking school lunch from family income will rid the program of the poverty stigma that negatively impacts participation, especially as children get older,” Community Food Advocates head Liz Accles said in a statement.

According to the public advocate’s office, roughly 780,000 or 75 percent of public school students are currently eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. An estimated 250,000 students don’t participate.

James said she has spoken with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration about the need to find resources to pay for universal free lunch.

In a statement, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said, “All children deserve a healthy meal at lunch.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


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