Teach NYS Calls on Mayor de Blasio to Make his New School Lunch Program Truly Universal

New York: Teach NYS, a project of the Orthodox Union, issued the following statement today in response to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a new universal school lunch program for all public school students:

We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to proper nutrition for all students. Like the Mayor we believe that all students deserve access to nutritious and well balanced meals in order to succeed academically. We are disappointed, that despite our advocacy in City Hall, the new “Free Lunch for All” program is hardly “for all” when it excludes students who attend nonpublic school. The Free Lunch for All program is based on the concept that a healthy lunch should be provided to all students- regardless of the school they attend. While “Free Lunch for All” is a catchy name, the reality should match the promise; in its current form, it does not- and in the process, excludes 20% of New York’s school age population.

“Nonpublic schools, be they Jewish, Catholic, Muslim or independent educate hundreds of thousands of students across the city, these students deserve the same access to nutritious meals as their counterparts in public schools”, said Maury Litwack, the Executive Director of Teach NYS.”  For years we have advocated for truly universal pre-kindergarten, truly universal security and safety programs and now universal access to school lunches- all of New York’s students are entitled to excellent education, safety and health programs.”

Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, added “We hope the mayor understands the important role that nonpublic schools play in educating this city’s children, and in relieving the city of the huge cost of educating over two hundred thousand children citywide, it is grossly unfair to penalize the choices these parents have made for educating their children by excluding them from programs and services that purport to be – but are not -available to all. This is discrimination in its starkest form. We call upon members of the nonpublic school community to make their voices heard as we continue to advocate for all children in New York City.”