Governor Cuomo Calls on the State Education Department to Ensure Students Impacted by Federal Shutdown Have Free School Meals

Part of Governor’s No Student Goes Hungry Program

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on the State Education Department to ensure that students impacted by the federal shutdown have access to free school meals. As part of this effort, the State Education Department would direct school districts to contact families that may be impacted by the shutdown and inform them that their children will be able to access free school lunch and meals during the shutdown as well as remind families that they can apply for the free or reduced price lunch program at any time during the year. This applies to children of federal employees as well as children who rely on federal benefits that may be delayed because of the shutdown.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“While the federal government shutdown continues to wreak havoc on families across the nation, we will not stand idly by and allow our youngest and most vulnerable New Yorkers to go hungry at school,” Governor Cuomo said. “As part of our landmark No Student Goes Hungry program, we will do everything in our power to ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of Washington’s negligence, have access to healthy meals during the school day.”

As part of the landmark No Student Goes Hungry program in the FY 2019 Budget, Governor Cuomo banned meal shaming, a practice in some schools where children are singled out, provided a lesser meal, or otherwise treated differently for not having money for a meal. This policy requires districts to enact a policy to ensure that every student is still provided a school meal without humiliation or shame and address how meal debt will be communicated to parents.

The USDA has informed State Child Nutrition Offices that the free school lunch and breakfast program has funds to continue through March. More than half of the K-12 students in the State are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

“While the President continues to put people’s lives at risk with the federal government shutdown, New York is stepping up.” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “We want to make sure that students have access to meals in school and have equal opportunity to succeed regardless of the shutdown.”

The move follows the Governor’s call for the New York State Department of Labor to provide increased support to workers seeking unemployment insurance benefits and the State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to help those working without pay apply for and obtain public assistance benefits and the Governor directing SUNY and CUNY to assists students impacted by the shutdown with college-related expenses.