New York City Puts an End to School-Lunch Shaming

The city rolled out universal free lunch on the first day of class.

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In some places, there really is such thing as a free lunch. As of Wednesday, September 6, New York City’s first day of school, all 1.1 million students are eligible for a hot lunch under the program Free School Lunch for All.

Mayor Bill de Blasio first began advocating for universal free lunch in New York City in 2014, when he launched a pilot program in middle schools. Although other school districts, Boston and Detroit among them, already offer free lunch to every student, New York City’s will be the largest program of its kind.  According to education news website Chalkbeat.org, more than two thirds of the city’s students were eligible to receive a free lunch, though an estimated 250,000 didn’t participate in the program due to a stigma associated with it or complicated paperwork. 

For more on how “school-lunch shaming” can harm kids—and what politicians are doing about it—listen to this recent episode of our food politics podcast, Bite. The segment begins at about 23:00. 

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

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