New York City Puts an End to School-Lunch Shaming

The city rolled out universal free lunch on the first day of class.

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In some places, there really is such thing as a free lunch. As of Wednesday, September 6, New York City’s first day of school, all 1.1 million students are eligible for a hot lunch under the program Free School Lunch for All.

Mayor Bill de Blasio first began advocating for universal free lunch in New York City in 2014, when he launched a pilot program in middle schools. Although other school districts, Boston and Detroit among them, already offer free lunch to every student, New York City’s will be the largest program of its kind.  According to education news website Chalkbeat.org, more than two thirds of the city’s students were eligible to receive a free lunch, though an estimated 250,000 didn’t participate in the program due to a stigma associated with it or complicated paperwork. 

For more on how “school-lunch shaming” can harm kids—and what politicians are doing about it—listen to this recent episode of our food politics podcast, Bite. The segment begins at about 23:00. 

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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