New York: Proposed Bill To Offer Free Breakfast And Lunch At School

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It is possible that the state of New York may mandate that all schools provide free breakfast and lunch to their student body.  Senate Democratic leader Michele Hinchey of Kingston and Assembly Democratic leader Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas of East Elmhurst have presented legislation (A.9518/S.9144) to address the issue. It’s doubtful whether the measure will make it through both chambers of the legislature by the conclusion of the parliamentary session, currently planned for June 2.

If passed, the federal government’s Community Eligibility Programs would apply to all schools, and the state would foot the bill for the difference between what it costs to feed all kids and what it receives from the federal government via the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The measure doesn’t identify the possible expense to the state.

In March 2020, when many schools would be shuttered as a result of COVID-19, Congress allowed the USDA power to boost school food reimbursement rates and remove some criteria. Funding and exemptions allowed schools to provide grab-and-go meals or send food home with students rather of having to serve them in the school cafeteria. It also enhanced summer meal programs for youngsters.  There will be no further exemptions for the program’s expansion after June 30.

“The health and economic crises brought on by the COV1D-19 pandemic have made the federal school meal programs more important than ever,” Hinchey and Gonzalez-Rojas wrote in their legislative justification. “A record number of New Yorkers do not have enough to eat, and it is likely that the economic recovery for families who struggle to put food on the table will take years.” 

Approximately 800,000 pupils will no longer be eligible for free lunches at approximately 2,000 schools, according to Hinchey and Gonzalez-Rojas.

All students at Jamestown are eligible for free breakfast and lunch under the Universal Free Meal programs. To ensure that every student in Jamestown Public Schools is eligible for free breakfast and lunch, the city implemented a series of initiatives. Families do not need to submit a free or reduced lunch application to be eligible.

Those students who live in Jamestown but go to school in another district will have to fill out an application for free or reduced meals at the school where they are currently enrolled. This covers students from Jamestown who are enrolled in BOCES programs.