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Albany, New York—In response to the release of the Senate and Assembly one-house budgets, the Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids coalition released the following statement:

Today, New York is one step closer to Healthy School Meals for All students in our state. By fully funding universal school meals in their one-house budgets, the State Senate and Assembly have sent a clear message: no child should go hungry during the school day.

Last year’s final budget included a major expansion of free school meals—but it did not cover all schools. More than 320,000 New York students across nearly 660 schools remain without access to universal no-cost school meals. Closing that gap and establishing Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids would reduce food insecurity, support learning, broaden farm-to-school programming, and provide much-needed financial relief to struggling families. In the absence of universal school meals, a family of four earning just $56,000 is over income for free school meals—far below a living wage in New York. This system is broken and New York students deserve better. Schools provide vital academic resources such as bus rides, textbooks, and school-issued technology to all students without means testing children—the same should be true for school meals.

As the next stage of negotiations begins, we urge Governor Hochul and legislative leaders to ensure Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids is fully funded in the final FY2025 budget. New York’s students, schools, and families are counting on leaders to prioritize this common-sense investment.

You can help. Join us in calling on Governor Hochul, Senate and Assembly leadership, and your local representatives to include full funding for Healthy School Meals for All in the final state budget:

  1. Send a letter directly to Governor Hochul, leaders in the legislature, and your representatives to send a clear message—New York needs statewide free school meals.
  2. Post on social media using our toolkit.
  3. Register to join us on Thursday, March 21, at 1:00 PM for a coalition meeting to discuss our advocacy strategy for the final state budget.