Advocates Blast de Blasio's Proposed $24 Million Cut in School Breakfasts

04.26.2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                

CONTACT: Nicole Aber, (914) 263-0013

 Naber@hungerfreeamerica.org           

 
de Blasio Budget Calls for $24 Million Cut in School Breakfasts
 
Advocates Blast “Counter-Productive Flip-Flop
That Will Increase Child Hunger and Lose Federal Funds”
 

Mayor de Blasio’s Fiscal Year 2020 Executive Budget proposes $24 million in City funding cuts for school breakfasts. (See page 30 of https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/omb/downloads/pdf/csp4-19.pdf) Specifically, the budget proposes $6 million in cuts per year over each of the next four years in “savings from the BIC (Breakfast in the Classroom) budget by allowing flexibility in implementation.”

These proposed cuts come on the heels of recent reports that found that New York City has one of the lowest big city school breakfast participation rates in the nation. A recent report by Hunger Solutions New York found that, in the 2017-2018 school year, only 25 percent of eligible kids in New York City public schools were getting schools breakfasts, which is a reduction in the 28 percent rate from the 2016-2017 school year. This breakfast under-participation costs New York City schools at least $44.6 million in federal reimbursements. Meanwhile, according to federal data analyzed by Hunger Free America, one in six of the city’s children struggle against hunger.

In response, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, said the following:

“As a longtime policy ally of Mayor de Blasio – dating back to his time on the City Council – I am simply stunned by this flip-flop, reversing his very long-term pledge to increase school breakfast participation. I bet Council Member de Blasio or Public Advocate de Blasio, if they were around today, would blast such a Reagan-esqe proposal. New York is already lagging in breakfast participation beyond virtually all other big cities. It’s bad enough, when we lose to Boston or Philadelphia in sports – it’s truly unforgivable when we lose to them in feeding hungry children. There is no way a big city with such massive child hunger can be the ‘fairest big city in America.’

Make no mistake about it: the bureaucratic language in the budget proposal – ‘allowing flexibility in implementation’ – means the City would allow some schools to simply not serve breakfasts in the classrooms, the best proven way to ensure all hungry kids eat. This proposal would not only increase student hunger, it would harm learning, because to be schooled you must be fueled and to be well read you must be well fed. It would also turn away tens of millions of dollars of federal reimbursement funds, thereby counter-productively losing more in federal funds than it would save in City funds. To make matters even worse, this reversal would put the City in danger of violating the new state law that mandates breakfast in the classroom in all high-needs public schools statewide. We hope the City Council immediately rejects this horrid proposal.”