Initiative Delivers on State of the State Promise to Provide $7 million in State Funding to 1,400 Schools That Offer Breakfast After the Bell
Expands Successful Farm-to-School Program with $1.5 Million in Grants to Schools and Incentivizes Local Food Options
Ensures All Students Will Be Treated with Dignity and Respect and Will Have Access to School Meals
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of "No Student Goes Hungry" program. This comprehensive program addresses food insecurity by expanding access to free breakfast for students in poverty, increases access to farm-fresh foods and ensures that all students have access to school meals without fear of shame. The program also includes $1.5 million to expand the successful Farm-to-School program.
"A well-rounded meal can make all the difference in a child's life, providing the focus and energy they need for a productive school day," Governor Cuomo said. "No child should never have to wonder where their next meal will come from, making the No Student Goes Hungry program critical to helping students across New York reach their full potential each day."
"This initiative will expand the free breakfast program for low-income students and offer fruits and vegetables from local farms -- because no student should be hungry in school," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This funding will provide schools in high-poverty areas with the resources they need to ensure all students have access to a healthy breakfast so they have the energy to succeed in the classroom and in their everyday lives."
The No Students Goes Hungry program supports high poverty areas around the state to make breakfast accessible for students after the school day has begun. Before the program was implemented, many schools would only offer breakfast to students before the start of school as buses arrived, leaving many students unavailable to take advantage of the meal programs.
The State is providing $7 million in funding to support equipment for high-poverty schools that offer breakfast after the bell, assisting schools in purchasing equipment such as refrigeration, coolers, vending machines, and breakfast kiosks to support the transition to breakfast after the bell.
The program also makes $1.5 million is available for eligible school districts to support the growth of Farm-to-School programs. The program helps Kindergarten through Grade 12 schools increase the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food on school menus, improve student health, and educate young people about agriculture. The program also assists the agricultural economy, providing additional business to New York's farmers. Funding for the Farm-to-School program was doubled in the State's 2018-19 Budget.
In addition, in order to incentivize the use of farm-fresh food in school cafeterias, the state will provide an increase in the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from the current 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent of its ingredients from New York farms.
Senator Carl Marcellino, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education said, "School children should never have to be responsible for feeding themselves or go hungry because their parents cannot afford it. By guaranteeing a meal after the bell for students in poverty, this initiative ensures that each and every child across New York State will have access to the produce and healthy meals they need to succeed in and out of the classroom."
Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, Chair of the Education Committee said, "When children go to school, they should be able to focus on what's going on in the classroom. This initiative helps ensure that a child's academic performance never suffers because of hunger and that they are never intimidated or made to feel ashamed or embarrassed for their inability to pay for school meals. I'd also like to thank Speaker Heastie for his role in helping prioritize the success of New York's students."
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, "No child should ever have to worry about where their next meal will come from or be intimidated or shamed for inability to pay for it. This initiative will help us ensure that every child has access to both a healthy lunch and breakfast, complete with fresh produce. By expanding access to free breakfast and making certain that every family is aware of their meal-related benefits, we can help our children be successful in and out of the classroom. I would also like to thank our Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan for her leadership on this important issue."
Child hunger is often associated with lower grades, higher rates of absenteeism, repeating a grade, and an inability to focus among students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many children, the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program offer the best opportunity to receive a regular nutritious meal throughout the week.
Unfortunately, while nearly 60 percent of students in New York public schools are currently eligible to receive a free or reduced-price breakfast at school, only 34 percent of these students eat breakfast on any given day, according to the New York State Education Department. The No Student Goes Hungry program aims to close that gap.
Finally, New York banned meal shaming, a practice in some schools where children are singled out, provided a lesser meal, or otherwise treated differently for not having money for a meal. This program will require districts to enact a policy to address how meal debt will be communicated to parents, while ensuring that every student is still provided a school meal without humiliation or shame.
Governor Cuomo's comprehensive polices ensure all of New York's students will have greater access to healthy, locally sourced food for breakfast and lunch for 2018-19 school year.