The free meals offered by the city’s Department of Education to all New Yorkers will continue this summer.
While New York City’s public schools have had free breakfast and lunch for all students since 2017, when the pandemic began spreading in the city in the spring of 2020 the DOE switched to a grab-and-go model for students. In April 2020 the DOE also began giving out free meals to everyone who showed up at a distribution site, no questions asked.
Food insecurity remains a persistent problem that was exacerbated by the pandemic. The food rescue organization City Harvest said at the height of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million New Yorkers were experiencing food insecurity, while the Food Bank for NYC reported distributing about 140 million pounds of food to pantries and kitchens across the city between April 2020 and March 2021, a 63% increase over the previous year. To date the DOE has distributed more than 130 million grab-and-go meals since the pandemic began.
The summer program distributes food at about 400 community sites in the five boroughs, while students enrolled in the city’s new Summer Rising program beginning July 6th will also be given free meals.
The community sites will distribute grab-and-go meals Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and people can pick up multiple meals at one time.
Vegetarian options are available at all sites, and kosher and halal meals at some locations. The sites also have take-home meal kits at all locations, with options including baked ravioli, beef burgers, burritos, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, chicken, fish patty, french fries, garlic toast, grilled cheese, Jamaican beef patty, mac and cheese, mozzarella sticks, omelet, pizza, stuffed shells, turkey, and waffles.
“Every New Yorker should have access to healthy, nutritious food this summer – no matter who they are or where they live,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in a statement. “Our heroic food service staff continue to show up for their neighbors and I (am) proud that our schools are a partner in the fight against hunger.”
To find community meal sites, visit schools.nyc.gov/SummerMeals, call 311, or text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877.