Moving into 2024, one of SOFSA’s policy priorities will continue to be universal free school meals. On Monday, January 29th 2024, SOFSA staff attended a statewide advocacy day with the Healthy School Meals for All Coalition in Albany. Co-led by Hunger Solutions New York and Community Food Advocates, the Healthy School Meals for All Coalition worked tirelessly with lawmakers to make the case for the inclusion of a universal school meals provision in the FY2024 state budget. While the full universal meals request did not make its way to the final budget, the state did allocate an additional $134.6M to expand access to free school meals. Read more about this expansion in this blog post.

SOFSA staff met with CNY legislators to share about the proposed expansion, and hundreds of other advocates from across the state joined to talk with their legislators. Read the article linked below to learn more about different legislators and advocates who are working together to see universal school meals become a reality.

“My hope is for students to not have to worry about where their next meal comes from, they can focus on their studies and not worry about what friend is going to share lunch with them. This is about providing students with the peace of mind that they don’t have to choose between school debt or going hungry.”

Emily ledyard, healthy school meals for all coalition

While this investment to expand CEP was a critical step in the right direction, New York State can and must finish the job by providing school meals at no cost to all students. SOFSA and our partners from across the state will continue to advocate for the adoption of universally free school meals in the upcoming budget cycle. 

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