The gathering of officials from the school level to the federal level at schools in Elmhurst and Sunset Park this week calling on Congress to pass nutrition standards and increase the access our children have to free meals was extremely important.
A country (or a city) that cannot feed its own people is no modern country at all.
That's why it's astonishing that so few people seem to know about, or talk about, what the city is doing for its young people. There are free meals every day at over 1,000 school locations all summer long, and middle school students will receive free lunches now for the entire year.
That's so important because it levels the playing field, something Mayor Bill de Blasio has been attempting to address since he contrasted the two different cities within New York City throughout his campaign.
It eliminates a stigma – of taking advantage of free or reduced-price lunches - that children are unfairly branded with, and it makes all children equals as they sit down at the lunch table.
It's not enough to feed our children, but we also need to give them access to nutritious foods and education that will set them up for a lifetime of success. It seems so simple: allow free lunches to include even more fruits and vegetables. Show children that carrots or snap peas can be a great snack.
School is not only a time to teach a child algebra and writing, but to teach them life skills that they can apply when they're on their own one day.
Congress needs to hear this and teach the forthcoming generations that just because there is a tomato-based sauce on something, that doesn't mean it's a vegetable.