photo: US Department of Agriculture via Flickr 

Adequate nutrition is absolutely essential for a child’s physical and mental development. Children ages 4 through 8 need 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day; those between 9 and 13 need 1,400 and 2,000; and teens between 14 and 18 need anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, according to the USDA. But not all children have the chance to get those daily calorie intakes in. Well, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) is trying to do something about that.

The 2017-18 school year marks a new beginning for the NYC DOE’s school lunch program. The New York City public schools have already been providing free breakfast for all students. Now they’ll also add free lunch, too!

That’s right — free lunch for all NYC public school students. Yes, there are free lunch programs across the country. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally funded program that helps both public and private schools to provide free or low-cost lunches to students in need.

So how is NYC’s program different? Children must qualify for NSLP funds by being considered “categorically eligible.” That means their families are eligible for Federal Assistance Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Program or they are homeless, migrants, runaways, foster children or enrolled in a federally funded Head Start (or comparable state-funded pre-k) program. The students can also qualify based on their family’s income and size. But NYC’s program is open to everyone, regardless of income, no application needed.

What do you think about NYC’s new program? Share your thoughts in the comments below.