NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?
When New York City public schools get back in session Thursday, lunch will be free of charge for every student.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James announced the “Free School Lunch for All” program Wednesday.
“Students need healthy meals to stay focused in school, and it is a major step forward that every New York City student will have access to free breakfast and lunch every day,” Fariña said in a statement. “Free School Lunch for All will provide financial relief to families and ensure all students are receiving nutritious meals so that they can succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
“We know that students cannot learn or thrive in school if they are hungry all day,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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.”
About three-quarters of the city’s 1.1 million public school students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch under federal guidelines. But many eligible kids haven’t received the free meals, often because parents neglect to fill out the required paperwork.
Advocates for child nutrition have long urged the city to ensure universal access by making lunch free for everyone.
Several other U.S. school districts including Boston and Detroit already offer free lunch for all.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)