NEW YORK—With the cost of school lunch expected to go up to $1.75 on September 30, Bill Thompson has a better idea: make it free for all.
Currently, 75 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-cost lunches, because their families meet certain eligibility requirements. Only a third of those students take advantage, according to Thompson.
He says there is a stigma associated with taking a free lunch. Many undocumented families don’t fill out the application fearing deportation.
Thompson said the 25 cent price increase amounts to $700 dollars per year for a family with two children, something few working class New Yorkers can afford.
All students receive free breakfast.
The free lunches would cost the city an additional $20 million annually, but Thompson said the city could draw an additional $60 million in federal aid, resulting in a net gain for the school system. He did not elaborate on the conference call how the city would be eligible for more grants than they would use.
In addition to the free lunch, Thompson is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give students four years of eligibility instead of filling out paper work every year.
Additional reporting by Ivan Pentchoukov