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“In today’s State of the State, Governor Hochul discussed a broad range of priorities including making New York more affordable, improving reading proficiency, supporting children and families, and strengthening the agricultural industry. We know that consistent, reliable access to healthy food – especially at school – is a critical component of each of those priorities.

As one in six children in New York struggle with hunger, parents face impossible decisions between paying for housing and healthcare or putting food on the table. Ensuring every New York student has access to school breakfast and lunch at no cost saves families an estimated $150 per child per month in grocery costs, a concrete step toward improving affordability and ensuring families can meet their basic needs. Access to school meals also supports learning, and is associated with improved test scores in reading. At the same time, it builds capacity for farm-to-school initiatives that support New York’s agricultural industry.

As the Governor and legislative leaders chart a path forward for making New York more affordable, we strongly urge full funding of statewide universal free school meals in the final FY2025 state budget.“