NYC Announces Free Lunch For All School Students

All NYC public schools will now offer free lunch for all of its students.
Image by Aaron Pilosov

New York City public schools now provides free lunch to all of its 1.1 million students through an initiative announced by Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor. The program started this school year.

About 75 percent of New York City public school students come from low income families, and had already qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. However, because of this initiative 200,000 more students will have the ability to take advantage of this opportunity, which will help their families save a significant amount of money annually.

According to a Department of Education (DOE) press release, the program won’t cost New York City any more money. The state recently changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits like Medicaid, matching them with the schools their children attend. With this new system, the city was able to identify more students whose families receive those benefits, enough that the whole city qualifies for a federal program that pays for universal free lunch.

Those savings are already affecting the students at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School (FSSA).

“It’s beneficial because I never got free or reduced lunch, so having it be free definitely helps me in regards of money,” Nick Bentancur an instrumental major at FSSA stated.

Several FSSA students are happy to have access to free lunch during their school day because of their demanding course loads. Having 90 minute studio art classes as well as academic courses takes up most of their time during the day, and having a healthy meal to provide them with the energy they need seems to be crucial. 

“Personally, I don’t take lunch every day. But if it’s an emergency, I now don’t have to worry about being hungry since there’s free lunch for everyone,” Isabel Donado, a senior instrumental major  said.“Last year I didn’t eat lunch at all, and that caused me to fall asleep, get migraines, reducing my will to learn. After my decision to start eating lunch, now that it is provided for free, I feel more focused and energized throughout the school day.”

FSSA Principal, Mr. Frankel, who is a product of the New York City public school system, acknowledges the benefits that free lunch can have on the school community. 

” I think that just as the education in public schools is free the lunch should be as well. It is the right thing to do and ensures that all students regardless of their socio-economic background are guaranteed to get free food while at school.”

The DOE’s decision of Free School Lunch for All contributes to its efforts of providing all students with access to a free and healthy meal.

“We know that students cannot learn or thrive in school if they are hungry all day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio according to the press release. “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.”

– by Evgenia Konstantinidou ‘18 

Additional reporting was done by Isabel Donado ‘18