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How many kids will qualify for free meals at school? Over 80%, per new data

State lawmakers announced on Thursday that around 81% of New York school children will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, thanks to combined state and federal aid for food programs. New York’s state budget allocated $134 million to supplement the expiration of some federal aid for meals.


The final budget deal established a mechanism for schools participating in the federal Community Eligibility Program to receive reimbursements covering the costs of all meals not currently supported by the federal government. With the federal government reducing the qualification threshold for free meals from 40% to 25%, more schools will become eligible for the program.

Despite these provisions, advocates continue to call for a more comprehensive universal school meal program. A coalition of groups, Healthy School Meals for All NY Kids, expressed their concerns about the current budget’s inadequacy, stating that it still leaves many children hungry and families struggling financially.