Lance Cheung for the USDA
Beginning Thursday, September 4, middle school students in New York City will have access to universal free lunch for the first time in the city’s history. In collaboration with the Lunch 4 Learning campaign spearheaded by the Community Food Advocates, Mayor Bill de Blasio will help public middle schools across the city provide free lunch.
Currently, although 68 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school students are eligible for free school lunch, hundreds of thousands of students do not participate in the program because of the stigma attached to poverty.
In elementary schools across the city, 81 percent of students eat school lunch, but that number drops to 61 percent in middle school, and 38 percent in high school.“Many of these students… go without eating school lunch for fear of being labeled poor by their peers, with long-lasting health and educational consequences,” said Liz Accles, Community Food Advocates executive director, in a statement.
"This is an incredibly transformative moment for middle school students who will grow up with a school lunch program where everyone eats on equal terms,” announced Accles. “The poverty stigma attached to school lunch will be erased.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.