The New York City Council Committee on Education held a hearing on the preliminary education budget on March 21, 2017. Advocates representing citywide nonprofit organizations, parents, physicians, academics, school governing bodies and other stakeholders delivered testimony in support of expanding free school meals to all New York City public schools. As members of the Lunch for Learning campaign for universal free meals in all New York City Public Schools, it was the youth voices who stood out the most, passionately articulating the urgency of the need to eliminate the tiered payment system currently utilized by a majority of public schools.
Jan Poppendieck, Professor Emerita, Hunter College and Senior Faculty Fellow, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, also delivered testimony in support of universal.
Universal has been piloted in stand-alone middle schools since the 2014-2015 school year; advocates are calling for a system-wide expansion. Despite recent attacks from the Trump administration, there is a substantial body of evidence supporting the connection between nutrition and academic performance. Hunger is prevalent in New York City’s school-age children; hunger makes it harder for children to learn, and students are more likely to eat meals when the stigma of poverty and complications of paperwork are removed.