The U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to provide free meals for New York City public school students affected by Hurricane Sandy, at the urgings of U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
“It’s important for our children to have access to the nutritious food necessary to grow and learn while at school,” said Sen. Schumer in a statement. "I am relieved that the USDA heeded our call to support free school meals to New York City public school students during this difficult time. These meals will provide food relief to the children-in-need after Superstorm Sandy as we continue the fight to fully recover.”
“We have a moral obligation to ensure our city’s children do not go hungry,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “Providing free school meals to all our city’s school children will help our schools meet the needs of children displaced by Hurricane Sandy and ensure our students have access to healthy, warm food.”
Earlier this month, the Schumer and Gillibrand penned a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking for funds to provide free meals for children through the remainder of the calendar year.
“The New York City school district is facing multiple obstacles in running their school meals program normally. The current situation prevents the district from operating normal systems to accurately determine current student eligibility and count and claim meals properly,” the letter read.
Before Sandy, the letter continued, about 86 percent of the lunches served in the NYC school district per day were free or priced-reduced.
As many as 40,000 New York City families are currently displaced or sheltered in poorly heated homes with no power Schumer and Gillibrand said, spiking the number of children eligible for free school meals.