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Universal Free Lunch in New York City
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Universal Free Lunch in New York City


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  • 1. 6/1/2014 New YorkCityCouncil, Department of Education Officials Spar Over Free Lunch Plan in Schools - WSJ… 1/3 See a sample reprint in PDF format. Dow Jones Reprints: This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers, use the Order Reprints tool at the bottom of any article or visit Order a reprint of this article now NY POLITICS Council, Education Officials Spar Over Free Lunch The de Blasio Administration Says the Plan Could Hurt Federal Funding for Low- Income Students May 28, 2014 1:53 p.m. ET A City Council proposal to provide universal free lunch in New York City public schools continues to be a rare point of disagreement between Mayor Bill de Blasio and his closest allies. At a rally on Wednesday outside City Hall, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called the $24 million lunch proposal—which wasn't included in Mr. de Blasio's $73.9 billion executive budget —the utmost priority. "We're going to make sure [New York City schools] Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the Department of Education know how much of a difference universal free lunch will make in the lives of children and families," she said. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito earlier in May. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal By MARA GAY
  • 2. 6/1/2014 New YorkCityCouncil, Department of Education Officials Spar Over Free Lunch Plan in Schools - WSJ… 2/3 Earlier Free Student Meals Bid Stalls Under de Blasio New York Mayor's Plan to Expand School Lunch Hits Snags But Ms. Fariña said the education department believed the plan could affect important federal funding for city schools under the federal Title One program. Title One allocates federal dollars for a variety of programs at low-income schools based in part on the application forms filled out by parents for free or reduced-price school lunches. "We're exploring that," she said of the proposal during a budget hearing Wednesday on education at the City Council, where Ms. Mark-Viverito asked her about her position on the issue. "Our major fear is how using this money will affect Title One funding." While the total amount of Title One funding would remain the same, education officials said implementing free lunch could affect the distribution of the money across the city. That could leave some schools with budget gaps. "We are very interested in it and we are pursuing it," Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm told council members. But, she said, "we know that some schools would be winners and some would be losers." A spokesman for the mayor referred to Ms. Farina's comments at the hearing. Ms. Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, and others in favor of universal free lunch say it will help students living in poverty who need the meal but may be too embarrassed to come forward. One-third of the 780,000 students who qualify for free or reduced lunch don't receive it, according to advocates. Ms. Mark-Viverito, an East Harlem Democrat who is a close ally of Mr. de Blasio, said she was shocked by the administration's response. "I would think that being in New York City, with as much innovation and creativity that we have, that we could find other ways other than the [application] forms to capture information to make sure that Title One is not impacted," the council speaker said. Ms. James, also a Democrat and another ally of Mr. de Blasio, was more pointed. "You just don't get it," she told the education officials, after rattling off a list of half a dozen school districts across the U.S. that have already implemented the program. "I just think the Department of Education has a fundamental misunderstanding of the program." New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina during a visit to a school in Brooklyn on April 7 Getty Images
  • 3. 6/1/2014 New YorkCityCouncil, Department of Education Officials Spar Over Free Lunch Plan in Schools - WSJ… 3/3 Ms. Mark-Viverito said making lunch free to all 1.1 million New York City public school students would lead to what advocates have said would be an estimated 20% increase in children who participate. Students from families of four earning less than $30,615 are eligible for free lunch. Students from families of four making less than $43,568 qualify for reduced-price lunch. About 75% of New York City School students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Kristina Erskine, 18, said some students are mocked for receiving free lunch. "There's a lot of jokes," said Ms. Erskine, a senior at the Academy for Environmental Leadership in Brooklyn who came to City Hall to rally for the lunch program. "People don't want to get the lunch because it makes them look poor. It's very uncomfortable." Write to Mara Gay at Copyright 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit