Child Nutrition Initiatives: Eat to Learn
Participating in national school and summer meals programs increases students' regular exposure to nutritious food and enables low-income families to allocate more of their budget to rent, clothing and other essentials. But while the National School Lunch Program offers children from low-income households free or reduced-priced school meals, the application process and the stigma associated with being identified as poor act as barriers to participation. Meanwhile, only about a fifth of eligible students participate in school breakfast, which is free for all public school students in New York City.
To address these challenges, Food Bank convenes the School Meals Coalition, which works to increase participation in school meals by engaging school employees, unions, government officials, community-based organizations, advocates and other stakeholders.
In addition to our work with the coalition, Food Bank is a partner in the Lunch 4 Learning campaign, which aims to remove barriers to participation in the National School Lunch Program by advocating for universal school meals. To increase participation in New York City's school breakfast program, we conduct school- and community-based outreach to promote alternative models of morning meal delivery (such as "grab and go" breakfast and breakfast in the classroom) that are proven to increase participation but are currently in limited use in New York City.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) serves breakfast and lunch in all low-income neighborhoods during the summer. Children can receive these meals at public schools, public housing developments, parks, pools and some libraries, soup kitchens and community organizations.
Food Bank distributes information about summer meals to community press, our member emergency food providers, and on our website. Each summer, Food Bank For New York City provides support to community-based member organizations to facilitate their participation as SFSP sites, thereby broadening access to summer meals to more children and communities.