NYC Public Schools Providing In-Classroom School Breakfasts to All Students


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Nicole Aber, 646-627-7741  

Advocates Praise City’s ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ Model

Grab & Go Meals Available to Remote Learners at 1,100 Locations

With New York City Public Schools officially open for in-person learning as of today, the approximately 480,000 students attending will receive breakfasts in the classroom each day as part of social distancing measures taking place. Providing breakfasts in the classroom is a major policy victory for anti-hunger advocates including Hunger Free NYC, a division of Hunger Free America, a direct service and advocacy nonprofit organization. Breakfasts that are served in the classroom, also known as “Breakfast After the Bell,” have been shown to increase participation in the free meals program in addition to having a positive impact on students’ learning.

Said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, “It is tragic that it took a devastating pandemic for all NYC schools to implement this policy, but this shift means that more students will be well fed at school than ever before. The ‘Breakfast After the Bell’ model has been proven to have the biggest impact on increasing participation compared to when breakfast is served in the cafeteria before school starts.”

During the 2018-2019 school year, NYC public schools had the lowest school breakfast participation rate out of any big city (population of one million or more) public school district in the United States. During that time, only 45 percent of children who received school lunches were also receiving school breakfasts, according to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) report, “School Breakfasts: Making it Work in Large School Districts.” Before the pandemic, more than 1 million students attended a New York City Public School in person.

Berg continued, “It is even more vital as the economic effects of Covid-19 continue, that NYC students receive school meals. According to a survey we conducted this year, child hunger in NYC has doubled during the pandemic. And with 62 percent of NYC public school parents concerned about their children’s access to food this fall, it is essential that the city follows through on these new policies including providing Grab & Go meals to remote learners, which can be picked up from 1,100 locations. Not only does this help students, but it will also help the city financially, as the majority of the School Breakfast Program is federally funded and the city will qualify for additional federal funds if more students participate in the program.”

Hunger Free America also praised the city’s decision to allow adults to continue picking up meals from 207 Community Hub locations. The number of food insecure New Yorkers is currently estimated at 2 million individuals.

Hunger Free NYC is available to providing free, confidential pre-screenings to check household eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The Hunger Free NYC team can be reached at 646-355-1475 (for English) and 347-599-1510 (for Spanish).