New York Program Aims To Increase Access to Free School Lunches

Governor Cuomo has announced that New York is to take part in a federal pilot program aimed at giving low-income students better access to school meals programs. New York is one of 6 states that will collaborate with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service on the New Project, along with Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. 353 New York City schools are scheduled to take part during the 2012-2013 school year.

"New York's collaboration with USDA on this pilot project will help hundreds of thousands of low-income children in New York City receive free meals at school," Governor Cuomo said. "New York State has made ending child hunger a top priority, and this program will support our efforts to improve nutrition and access to healthy meals in our schools."

The measures are specifically targeted at ensuring the most vulnerable children in the state don't go hungry.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Every child needs access to healthy meals and too many of our children are falling victim to the obesity crisis. This new program is a common sense step towards ensuring that our city youth achieve their full potential. When we invest in healthy meals for our city schoolchildren, we improve their chances of success in the classroom and beyond."

The new program is a result of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 which allows states to use direct certification with Medicaid information. The study will expand over the coming years, allowing more states access to the program.

Results of the initiative will be reported to Congress from 2014 by USDA's Food and Nutrition service in a formal study assessing the program's success and effectiveness.

Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, said, "New York's participation in this essential pilot program is a win-win, which will bring more federal money into the state while feeding more hungry children. This is a great step toward reaching Governor Cuomo's goal of ending child hunger in New York."

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