New York School Nutrition Association launches statewide campaign to secure funding for free meals for kids in New York State budget

ALBANY, NY, March 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country have provided meals to students at no cost, ensuring they have access to a healthy breakfast and lunch each school day. school, even when distance learning was in place. However, the federal waivers that gave schools the ability to do so are due to expire in June, and the federal government has not extended the waivers or provided additional funding. With the issue left to the states to address — at least on a temporary basis — the New York School Nutrition Association has launched a comprehensive statewide campaign to urge state lawmakers and the governor. Kathy Hochul include the Healthy School Meals for All proposal in the state budget for fiscal year 2023. More than 300 state education associations, anti-hunger groups, child nutrition advocates, and school districts have joined NYSNA in the struggle to continue providing free meals to students.

Members of this group will be reaching out to their members and constituents to increase grassroots pressure on their elected officials, including Governor Hochul, to address this critical issue. “We are confident that this diverse statewide coalition will be able to activate the tens of thousands of New Yorkers in their networks to raise awareness of this need and how important it is not to back down,” said Jennifer MartinNYSNA executive director.

School meals are among the most effective anti-hunger programs and have been proven to reduce food insecurity; improve mental and physical health; support students’ ability to thrive academically; and strengthen education, health and economic equity. In schools offering universal meals, students performed better on standardized tests, attention and learning retention, and general delays. Participation in school nutrition programs has also been shown to lead to lower rates of mental illness, depression, disruptive behavior and obesity, as well as improved rates of overall behavioral health. Free meals for all also reduce the stigma attached to free or reduced-price meals.

“In a hunger-free school, children walk through the doors of their lunchroom on an equal footing, with everyone entitled to the same meal and no one needing to provide that they are paid or poor enough to eat. for free,” Martin said.

“We cannot go back to an unfair, ineffective, and stigmatizing tiered eligibility system that leaves many people behind,” the NYSNA Board Chairman said. Donna Riviello from the Clyde-Savannah Central School District to Wayne County. “Letting this benefit expire in the wake of the pandemic, as families and communities struggle to recover, will have dire consequences for our school communities, creating a hunger cliff for approximately one in five people. new York food insecure children.

Healthy School Meals for All advocates are calling for the establishment and funding of a permanent statewide program to ensure students have access to a healthy breakfast and lunch every school day . In addition to all the health and academic benefits, the investment would help schools by eliminating school lunch debt, which is a major drain on school district finances and staff time; streamlining the administration of school meals programs so that the focus can be on serving nutritious meals; and improving school nutrition finance as increased participation enables schools to benefit from economies of scale.

“We bus kids to school, we provide them with the technology to learn; nutrition is another big factor in their success,” Martin said. “We need to make sure our students are ready to learn by giving them free nutritious meals. Failure to do so is a real disservice to our children.”

New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey said: “For thousands of children in New York State, the meals they receive at school are the only meals they will receive that day. Our young people learn best when they can focus on their lessons instead of the hunger in their stomachs, and our young people succeed when they are fueled by healthy foods. It is incumbent on us as a state – especially as a leading agricultural state – to fund universal school meals so that every student, whether they live in a rural town or in an inner city, has access to free, nutritious and locally sourced food. while they are at school. Healthy school meals are an investment in the development of our young people, in the future of new York agriculture and paved the way for a move toward expanding access to real food in communities across the state. As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will continue to fight for the inclusion of this critical funding in the final budget. »

“In June, 2,000 schools and 800,000 students will lose access to healthy school meals in our state and in districts that were in dire need before the COVID-19 pandemic and are now in greater need of resources. Not feeding the children is a political choice if we do not invest in maintaining this program in our state budget. California and Maine did it, and now we need New York State do this. We urge our legislature and governor to fund universal school meals for all students in our enacted FY23 state budget because no child should ever go hungry,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas.

Deputy Fred Thiele said, “The USDA-supported school lunch program has been nothing short of a lifeline for children and families facing food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. and as the expiration date of the program approaches, new York must act to ensure that no child goes without a reliable source of nutrition. I urge my colleagues in government to include universal school meals in the adopted budget and to support the health and growth of our children. “

“Every school in this state should provide free healthy school lunches to its students, regardless of income,” said Assemblyman Harry Bronson. “Our students deserve equal access to a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school to support their health and well-being. There is a direct link between academic performance and healthy school meals. The future of New York State they are our children and we must do everything we can to ensure that our education system promotes equity in our schools. I will continue to fight for the dignity and opportunity of every student in this state.”

“As a permanent educator, principal and president of the school board of Yonkers Public schools, I know firsthand the importance of a well-nourished child,” said Assemblyman Nader Sayegh. “Offering free breakfast and lunch means that all of our students are ready to learn. that thousands of new York school children going without breakfast and lunch is unacceptable and I strongly support funding healthy school meals for all. »

“Every student deserves access to a free, nutritious meal during school hours, regardless of family income,” said Assemblyman Demond Meeks. “Free, quality meals for all children promote a more equitable learning environment. By providing nutrition for young minds, we are also reducing the severe impacts of poverty, disease and hunger within our community. It is more essential than ever that we support our This is why we must expand access to school meals by providing healthy school meals for all by New York State.”

About the New York School Nutrition Association:
The New York School Nutrition Association is a cohesive group of employees, managers, directors, dietitians, nutritionists, and members of the school nutrition industry. New York State is committed to ensuring that all students have access to healthy meals. NYSNA provides information, services, and continuing education to school nutrition and food service professionals in New York State. For more information: https://www.nyschoolnutrition.org/

SOURCE New York School Nutrition Association

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