ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Gov. Kathy Hochul’s now $229 billion dollar budget intends to expand eligibility for universal school meals.
“For kids to be successful in school, they can’t sit there with their stomachs growling. They’re hungry. They need nutritious food to focus and thrive,” Hochul said.
Hochul added the final budget will include $134 million for free school meals. The Governor’s original budget plan did not include universal school meals. Both the Senate and the Assembly proposed $280 million in their one-house budget resolutions.
Assembly Member Phil Palmesano (R-Corning) said the concept of universal school meals helps break down the stigma around a free lunch and breakfast program. He also said $134 million is not enough.
“There will be some children and some school districts left out of the equation, that’s not universal,” he said.
Assembly Member Palmesano said the details soon to be laid out in the budget bills will provide a clearer picture of how many school districts will be eligible for universal school meals.