While the majority of schoolchildren are learning remotely, many of them depend on school food for nutrition. To make sure no kid goes hungry, the city set up pickup locations for free breakfasts and lunches – grab and go kits that can be picked up by kids or their parents. Unfortunately, until recently the options were rather limited and heavy on Peanut Butter & Jelly, Cheese Sandwich, and Hummus Grab & Go bags (which all also include fruit and milk).
As school resumed in the fall and teachers checked in with their students, they kept hearing that many of them were going hungry, deeming crackers and hummus insufficient food.
“Students were sharing with teachers how hungry they were and were asking for full, hot, and nutritious meals,” and in November 2020, Councilmember Mark Treyger, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee, sent a letter to the Mayor, Chancellor, and DYCD Commissioner about providing hot meals to all students as the weather gets colder, arguing that the City should take care of its young the way it takes care of its old, hot meals included.
“My office has received numerous complaints from families about inadequate food options, which is contributing to food insecurity concerns,” Treyger wrote.
“This is not an insurmountable task, but one that would go a long way to better meet the needs of our kids and families especially as we head into a very concerning phase of this pandemic. I have also heard from numerous educators, administrators, and nonprofits about food waste and social-emotional challenges resulting from our inability to meet children’s desire for hot food. Many have even dug into their own pockets, or relied on private funding to meet their students’ needs.”
NYC Department of Education finally started distributing hot or reheatable meals to schoolchildren on December 14, 2020.
“While acknowledging we have more work to do to tackle food insecurity in NYC, this is definitely a step forward,” Treyger said of the welcome news.