School Food Accountability Bill Expected to Pass City Council
NYC to Report on How Many of the 1.1 Million Public School Students Actually Eat School Meals
New York, NY- What is for breakfast lunch, and dinner along with how many children actually eat it is on the menu and passing the City Council thanks to legislation authored by Council Member Kallos. The Department of Education will now report on all school meals for 1.1 million public school children and on planning measures to increase participation in programs like Breakfast After the Bell and the newly announced Universal Free Lunch.
"No public school child should go hungry in one of the wealthiest cities in the world," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "With the addition of universal lunch, New York City offers a number of options for meals to our students. But we must make sure our kids and families are participating and the food they are served is nutritious.”
"Intro 773-B enables us to ensure that the Free School Lunch for All and Breakfast After the Bell initiatives reach their full potential. Given the extraordinarily high cost of living in New York City many families are struggling to make ends meet and school meals guarantee that students have the fuel they need to thrive in school." said Liz Accles, Executive Director, Community Food Advocates.
"Council Member Kallos understands that proper child nutrition is critical in ensuring educational performance," said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America. "To be schooled, you must be fueled. To be well read, you must be well fed. That’s why we are so grateful that his bill ensures greater transparency for our school system food services, and makes it easier for organizations like Hunger Free America to help make sure every child receives a nutritious meal during the school year."
For years, the City Council advocated in its Budget Response for Breakfast After the Bell, pointing out that comparable cities like Los Angeles received $16 million in federal funds for implementing the program. Efforts to increase healthy, free school meal participation have been a city priority. After the Council successfully advocated for free lunch in stand-alone middle schools, the Mayor announced recently that free lunch will now be offered in all public schools. According to Lunch 4 Learning,participation in lunch programs rose 8% in participating middle schools. The City can expect a more dramatic rise with the rollout of universal free lunch this year.
"While we know that healthy food fuels success for children, only a quarter of NYC students are eating free school breakfast, one in five NYC children is at risk of hunger, childhood obesity rates remain too high, and NYC recently ranked 61 out of 62 urban districts with regard to the take-up rate for school breakfast,” said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Government Relations, Citizens’ Committee for Children. “NYC public school children need universal Breakfast After the Bell programs, salad bars with fresh, nutritious food, universal free lunch, and after-school snacks. The data in Council Member Kallos’ bill will provide us with the ammunition we need to demonstrate the need to take immediate actions to ensure all school children are eating nutritious meals during and after the school day”
According to Hunger Free-NYC, one quarter of New York City children are food insecure. And a recent survey by the Food Research and Action Center found that New York City ranks second-to-last among 62 large school districts in effectiveness at reaching children eligible for programs like free breakfast. Introduction 773-B will allow the New York City Council to hold the DOE accountable for increased food security so no children will ever go hungry in New York City schools.
Int 773-B requires that the DOE report annually online to the City Council and the general public:
- The average daily number of meals served for breakfast both before and after the bell;
- The average daily number of meals served for lunch; and
- The average daily number of meals served for school snacks and supper; and
- Steps taken by DOE to increase participation in these programs through special initiatives and new proposals.
“The School Food Accountability Bill provides a much-needed addition to NYC’s existing food metrics. The data will help parents, advocates, researchers and school administrators track the progress of several important initiatives to improve school food and make it more accessible. The school food program continues to be one of the most important ways that New York City reduces food insecurity and improves the nutritional health of our children. The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute welcomes this legislation and applauds the Council for including a requirement that DOE report the steps it is taking to increase student participation. In the spirit of the old adage that ‘what gets measured gets done,’ we are happy to see this step toward greater accountability,” said Janet Poppendieck co-founder of the NYC food policy Center at Hunter College.
“Having worked in school feeding across the globe, I have had the pleasure of diving in deep with the amazing team at School Food for many years and its evident that no group uses data better to drive healthy changes for its million-plus student customers. Now working in emergency feeding, at West Side Campaign Against Hunger, we know that low-income parents face multiple barriers to feeding their families healthy meals, but school food doesn’t have to be one of them. With publicly available data on school breakfasts and snacks, we believe we can better advocate for increased participation by promoting policies such as breakfast after the bell,” said Chef Gregory Silverman, MSc, Executive Director at West Side Campaign Against Hunger.