Lawmakers rally in Albany for universal school meals
ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)--WHILE SOME EDUCATORS STOCK SNACKS IN THEIR CLASSROOMS AND STUDENTS TRY TO BRING EXTRA LUNCHES FOR THEIR FRIENDS, LAWMAKERS IN ALBANY WORK IN A BI-PARTISAN WAY TO FUND FREE ACCESS TO BREAKFAST AND LUNCH IN SCHOOLS.
“It is our job; it is our requirement that we make sure we fund this program for every single student across the state regardless of income eligibility because every single student deserves to eat good food in schools,” said Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-41st Senate District).
LAST YEAR THE GOVERNOR’S FINAL BUDGET ALLOCATED $134.6 MILLION DOLLARS FOR UNIVERSAL SCHOOL MEALS. THIS YEAR THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PLAN PROPOSES AN $11 MILLION INCREASE IN STATE FUNDING FOR SCHOOL FOOD PROGRAMS.
BUT SOME LAWMAKERS SAY THIS WON’T BE ENOUGH TO REACH EVERY STUDENT.
“We’re demanding full universal school meals for every single child here in New York state,” said Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas (D-Assembly District 34).
LAWMAKERS ARE ASKING FOR AN ADDITIONAL $90 MILLION TO FULLY FUND FREE SCHOOL MEALS.
SOME SCHOOL TEACHERS SAid STUDENTS LEARN AND PERFORM BETTER IN THE CLASSROOM WHEN THEY ARE NOT HUNGRY -- HIGHLIGHTING THE IMPACT OF EXPANDED ACCESS TO UNIVERSAL SCHOOL MEALS DURING THE PANDEMIC.
“We saw kids having full bellies, we saw kids more able to pay attention, we saw there was an uptick in learning because kids didn’t have to worry about having their basic needs met. So, we know what it looks like, and we don’t want to go back,” said Melinda Person, president of the New York State United Teachers.