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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Youth & School Programs
Type: Media Coverage

DOE Cracks Down On Free Lunches, May Leave Some Students Hungry

It won’t be so easy to get a free lunch at some Brooklyn public schools next fall.

The Department of Education is ending its practice of giving every student a free lunch without their parents having to prove their need – and 35 borough schools are on the list.

DOE will require parents to apply for free meals each year, instead of every four years, and only qualified students will get them.

The program provides free, balanced meals to needy students at city schools.

"This will have a devastating affect on our kids," said Gregory James, 29, whose niece, Tityanna James, attends third grade at Public School 287 in Fort Greene, where 100% of the kids are considered free-lunch eligible.

"Some parents don’t even care enough to fill out a form asking for free lunch," said James. "And those kids are probably the ones who need it most."

DOE hopes to save about $3 million by eliminating the program at about 100 schools around the city.

Brooklyn will be the hardest hit, with 35 schools losing universal free lunches in Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bensonhurst and other low income neighborhoods.**

"There are already so many cuts in our schools, and now they’ve made it harder to get free lunch," said Kimberly Young, 27, whose daughter attends pre-kindergarten at P.S. 67 in Fort Greene. "It’s not right."

Spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said the DOE had to make the cuts in order to save other essential services.

"We cannot afford to continue to subsidize free and reduced meals for students who do not qualify," she said. "Students who qualify for free lunches will continue to receive them, as long as their parents apply every year."

**Make the Road New York supports free lunches for students.