Students, faculty and supporters gathered on the steps of City Hall, Tuesday, to present a proposal to extend universal free lunches to all public school students.
The proposal came in the form of a letter and a “selfie book” delivered to Barbara Turk, Director of Food Policy at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, and addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The letter called on the mayor to support all the city’s public school students and expressed disappointment that the expansion of universal free school lunch for all public schools was left out of the budget.
“Students are worried about everything except learning. This takes one more problem out of their plate…or puts it in their plate and it allows them to continue to do what they came there to do, which is to learn,” said Williamsburg City Council member Antonio Reynoso, who supported and attended the rally.
Among the participating organizations included A.C.T.I.O.N. @ The Point CDC, Added Value, Bushwick Campus Youth Food Policy Council, East New York Farms, Queens Community House, Teenergetic and the Union Settlement Bridges, and the Lunch 4 Learning Initiative.
Student advocates for the expansion of free lunch said students who accept free lunch are labeled “free-free eaters” by their peers. If school lunch were free for everyone, students would no longer be categorized by income differences in the cafeteria, they said.
“I was a victim and I still am of bully in the lunchroom for going up to get free food, “said Aminata Abdouramane, a student at the Academy of urban Planning in Bushwick.
Despite the rally, universal free lunch for all public schools students was not included in the FY 2016 budget.