Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday announced the launch of “No Student Goes Hungry” program. This program will address 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, according to an announcement by the governor’s office.
The program also includes $1.5 million to expand the state’s 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,” 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 Lt. Gov. 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 Student 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.
The program also makes $1.5 million is available for eligible school districts to support the growth of Farm-to-School programs. The program 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. 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.
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.
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, officials said.
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.