New York City will now provide free lunch for all public school students, The New York Times reports. The school’s counselor, Carmen Fariña, made the announcement on Wednesday (Sept. 6) at an elementary school in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.
“This is about equity,” she said. “All communities matter.”
The initiative is a pivotal one considering the majority of public school students hail from low-income households. A reported 75 percent of students already qualify for free lunch or reduced priced meals. The new plan is set to reach an additional 200,000 pupils per year, and save families an extra $300. Reportedly, the full price of a school lunch is $1.75.
In the past, many students opted out of eating lunch because they felt ashamed for not being able to afford the meal, and dealing with taunting from their peers. Officials hope the stigma of subsidized school lunch will now end.
Other major cities like Chicago, Boston, Detroit, and Dallas have already implemented a free meal system in its public schools. Breakfast continues to remain at no cost statewide.
Elizabeth Rose, the education department’s deputy chancellor of operations, suggested that families continue to fill out their household income forms, which come in handy to determine if schools receive Title I money. The funds go to schools that educate some of the poorest students in that community.