Free lunch now will be provided for all NYC public school students

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NEW YORK — Every student in New York City public schools will be eligible to receive free lunch starting Thursday, the schools chancellor said.

Free midday meals will be available to all schools and students that participate in SchoolFood, including charter and non-public schools, the city's education department said Wednesday.

City leaders said providing free lunch for the city's 1.1 million students will support kids' health and their education.

"For so many students, school is the only place where they have access to a nutrition meal," Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal said. "Providing free lunch ... will ensure that (students') bodies are fed so that their brains can be nourished."

Last year, a majority of city students -- 75 percent -- were eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch under federal guidelines. But many eligible students haven't recieved the free meals, often because parents neglect to fill out the required paperwork.

An additional 200,000 students will be eligible for free meals under this new program, the city said. Breakfast is already provided free of charge.

Several other U.S. school districts including Boston and Detroit already offer free lunch for all.

School officials ask that parents, regardless of their income, complete a School Meals Form by Dec. 29 for federal funding purposes. To fill out the form online, click here.

Anyone with a balance on their MySchoolBucks account will receive a full refund, with more information about how to retrieve that refund coming soon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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