The Healthy School Meals for All New York Kids coalition rallied today at the state Capitol to advocate for fully funded, no-cost meals for students across the state.
In last year’s budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul invested $134.6 million to expand access to free school meals, but lawmakers said this upcoming budget should expand the program.
“For less than one-tenth of one percent of the state budget, New York can provide school meals at no cost to all students, as eight other states have already done,” a press release for the event reads. One in six New York children experience food insecurity, the group said.
“Governor Hochul, from one mom to another,” Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas (D-Queens), said at the event. “We ask you, please fully fund our universal school meal programs. We cannot teach a hungry child, and we can not leave a single child behind.”
Last year’s budget, although it gave over 347,000 students access to free school meals, it did not include a universal push for no-cost breakfast and lunch for students. And more than 320,000 students across 650 schools did not receive the benefits.
“Last year, we took a significant step by investing in historic funding to expand access to free healthy meals, but too many children were left out of that expansion. We must do more to ensure we fulfill our obligation to care for every child,” Senate Education Committee chair Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers) said.