If it’s free, it’s for me: DOE offers free lunch to all NYC students

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The DOE is now offering free lunch to all NYC public schools. THHS students shared their thoughts on the new policy now that the school year is under way.

The new accessibility to school lunch has made a positive impact on students, staff members and parents. Ellen Fee, Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Phys Ed said that free lunch “is going to be a positive because there are always people who forgot to fill their account… this allows anybody to go get lunch anytime anywhere.” In previous years, free lunch depended upon students filling out forms. Now students are automatically eligible.

According to school aid Paul Sforza, “[free lunch] gives an opportunity for more students to have lunch; for some families it relieves the financial burden.”

Freshman Alvin Kelmendi has been eating school lunch since he was in kindergarten. He said, “Honestly, the food tastes better now that it’s free.” Aside from that, he noticed that his parents were really happy about this new policy, considering that he will be eating for free over the course of the next four years.

For others, such as junior Alexandra Uszynski, this is the first year they have considered getting school lunch. Alexandra said“It’s free, so why not? It beats having to wake up early and make your own lunch.”

While the new policy has proven to have several benefits, the change has also led to some challenges in the cafeteria. Sophomore James Hopkins said, “The lunch line wraps all along the back wall, around the vending machines and almost to the desk. Last year I used to wait until the line was completely empty to get my lunch, but that’s not possible this year because of the amount of kids there are.” James recalls certain days of having only eight minutes to take a seat, eat his meal, and clean up due to the amount of time he spent on the lunch line. Senior Karolina Grodzki said, “I only get lunch from time to time now because waiting on line takes too long.”

The longer wait is not limited to THHS. Maria Malo, a school aide at PS 186, said “Elementary school kids don’t have a lot of patience and now that more kids are receiving lunch, it takes longer to make sure everyone eats. This policy helps families financially, but there needs to be a more efficient way to get everyone lunch.”

This program, issued by Chancellor Carmen Farina, is known as “Free School Lunch for All.” Using this new initiative, schools hope to provide meals for about 1.1 million students throughout the 1,800 NYC public schools. In a statement released by Chancellor Farina, she states, “Free School Lunch for All will provide financial relief to families and ensure all students are receiving nutritious meals so that they can succeed in the classroom and beyond.”