Rachael Ray Launches Petition for Free NYC School Lunches

Rachael Ray, in conjunction with the Lunch 4 Learning (L4L) campaign, has launched a petition via Change.org urging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow all of NYC’s public school students to have universal free lunch, according to a press release.

Ray, a daytime host and author, is also a long-time child nutrition advocate who is working to end the bullying and insecurity that students face as a result of a school system that only offers free lunch for NYC’s poorest children. L4L, a diverse, coalition-based campaign spearheaded by Community Food Advocates, is made up of NYC parents, students, pediatricians, including the New York chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and NYC Council Members. Together, they have been pushing Mayor de Blasio to expand universal free lunch to all NYC public school students since 2014.

“I’ve launched my Change.org petition urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure that he sticks to his commitment of providing New York City public school students with a nutritious free lunch without regard to income,” says Ray. “All children should have access to a nutritious hot meal at lunch, end of story. Kids with empty bellies can’t learn.”

Statistics show that 75 percent of NYC’s 1.1 million public school children have family incomes low enough to be eligible for free or reduced priced school lunch, yet hundreds of thousands of eligible students don’t participate because of the program’s poverty stigma.

When campaigning for office, Mayor de Blasio deemed universal free lunch as “crucial.” However, in 2014 he only provided funding for freestanding middle schools (grades 6th- 8th). It was successful, as 7,600 additional students starting eating lunch, but Ray says that “it’s time for Mayor de Blasio to make good on his campaign promise and provide free lunch to all of NYC’s public school students.”

Major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and more have already implemented universal free lunch. The Mayor is set to finalize NYC’s school budget in the first few days of June, so if you want to sign the petition, go to Change.org. It already has over 27,000 signatures, but they are looking to reach at least 35,000. And for more information about L4L and its campaign, visit lunch4learningnyc.org. 

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Main image via Change.org