One in seven children in New York experiences hunger. During National School Lunch Week, October 10 – 14, the American Heart Association is calling on New York’s lawmakers to prioritize child nutrition. By enacting healthy school meals for all New York children, lawmakers can address the critical need for nutritious breakfast and lunch for all students.
“We want the governor and state legislators to include funding in the next budget so that healthy lunches are available to all of New York’s schoolchildren,” said Brianna Durkee, New York state government relations director for the American Heart Association. “This week, the focus is on school lunches, making it a great time to let lawmakers know we will be advocating for this in the coming year.”
American Heart Association advocates will be reaching out to their elected representatives to ask them to include healthy school lunches in the next fiscal budget.
In the Albany school district, all students have been eligible for free breakfast and lunch for many years through the Community Eligibility Provision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
Albany City School District Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams, chair of the board of directors of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region, has seen the direct benefits of this vital program for students in Albany, and strongly encourages New York to invest in Health School Meals for All to provide equity for all students statewide.
“This investment would provide equitable access to healthy meals for all children regardless of income; remove financial burdens for families; help children who might be on the edge of eligibility have nutritious meals; and mitigate the shame some students face in their school cafeteria,” Adams said. “Every New York child deserves access to healthy meals so they can get the nutrition they need to thrive. The American Heart Association’s mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, and it’s most important to be relentless where our children are concerned.”
Without adequate nutrition, it’s difficult for children to focus and learn. Investing in a statewide expansion of healthy school meals would provide reliable access to nutritious meals for all New York students. The current income-based system for free and reduced lunch means that some families are not eligible even though they struggle to make a living wage.
New York lawmakers must prioritize the health and nutrition of our future generations. Children who eat healthy school meals have better overall diets and decreased chance of diet- related diseases. This legislation would help children build healthy eating habits that they could carry throughout their lives.
An investment in school meals for all is an investment would plant the seeds for a healthier New York.