Public Advocate Letitia James recently held a press conference to discuss the plan to provide free lunch to all public school students. She was joined by Community Food Advocates, Food Bank For New York City and the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators.
However, because of the stigma of poverty associated with free or reduced-price school lunches, and more importantly, the fears of undocumented parents of kids in the school system filling out the required paperwork to qualify, an estimated 250,000 income eligible city students do not participate in the school lunch program.
The city recently raised the price for school lunch from $1.50 to $1.75 this past September for the first time in 10 years. Regardless, it's still a good bargain. For those that can afford it.
Children going hungry is still a big problem in New York City, and when kids are hungry, they don't learn and are disruptive in class, making it difficult for other kids to learn.
With three-quarters of students taking advantage of free or reduced-price lunches, why not just make school lunch free for all, removing any barriers for the estimated quarter-million kids who would normally qualify but don't take advantage of the program.
Putting food on the table might still be an unfortunate struggle for too many of our fellow New Yorkers in their homes, but it shouldn't be an issue on the tables in school lunch rooms across the five boroughs.
Surely, New York City can see to that.