Lunch 4 Learning: Making Universal Free Lunch a Public Health Issue

Thursday, October 15, 2015 -
9:00am to 11:30am EDT
New York State Health Foundation, 1385 Broadway, 23rd Floor, NYC
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An astonishing 75% of NYC’s 1.1 million public school students – 780,000 children – are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. However, only 250,000 (1 in 3) eligible students participate in school lunch programs. The reason is simple: students skip the lunch program to avoid stigma and bullying associated with a “free-free.”
In 2013, 81% of elementary school students, 61% of middle school students, and 38% of high school students ate school lunch. This downward participation trend as children get older has an immediate and long-term health and social impact. Bullying increases in middle school and high school - and students report the high rates of bullying, especially impacting lower-income children, in the lunchroom. This leads to a skipped lunch phenomenon at a time when they most need food. 
In response, Community Food Advocates in partnership with other leading community and anti-hunger groups launched the Lunch 4 Learning Campaign (L4L), to lead the effort to bring universal free lunch in all NYC public schools. Universal free lunch eliminates the poverty stigma of participating in school lunch and improves children’s health, and education outcomes. It also brings more federal dollars to New York City. 
In June 2014, the Schools Chancellor, City Council and Public Advocate, the Mayor, and City Council Speaker jointly announced free lunch for middle school students. In the first six months of implementation, middle school participation in school lunches increased 8.5%, with no concerted marketing effort! Systemwide implementation would increase participation by an estimated 20%, with 120,000 additional students eating each day. The city also realized $6.9 million in additional federal subsidies from this increased access by eligible middle schoolers.  
Join us for a roundtable discussion about the L4L Campaign. Discussion will include recent advocacy efforts, and how funders can play a critical role in continuing the momentum of the campaign so that all NYC public school students have safe access to what may be their most nutritious meal of the day. Leaders from the campaign will be on hand to discuss the issue from the student experience and parent and pediatrician perspectives.

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Al interested funders.


8:45 - 9:00 AM  Check-in
9:00 - 11:30 AM  Program
Registration is required by October 14.
Members and Guests of Organizers: To register, please email:

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