A coalition of 69 community groups has rallied behind a "Lunch 4 Learning" campaign and is urging the next mayor to make sure all NYC public school students have access to free, nutritious lunches.
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On Wednesday, the group led by Community Food Advocates sent a letter to all mayoral candidates arguing that the current school lunch program discourages students from participating because they don't want to be seen as poor.
“Currently, many students do not eat school lunch or breakfast because of the long-standing income-based stigma of participating in the program," the letter said. "Offering universal free and healthy school meals without identifying students by income is fundamental to eliminating stigma and increasing participation.”
The signers included various education and food advocacy groups including the Brooklyn Food Coalition, DC37, and the United Federation of Teachers.
“Universal school meals will have a tremendous impact on childhood hunger, address public health concerns, and boost educational outcomes in New York City," said Liz Accles, Executive Director of Community Food Advocates. "In addition, it will make program administration more efficient and add jobs to the local economy.”