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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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