1/3 of seniors in NYC live alone, requiring more social support from outside sources, like senior centers. (NYC Office of the Public Advocate)

Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House


The mission of Jacob A. Riis Settlement House is to build and strengthen the underserved communities of Western Queens and act as a catalyst for change. Riis Settlement is a community-based non-profit organization that offers comprehensive services to the youth, adults, seniors, and families of Queensbridge, Ravenswood and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Lunch 4 Learning

UNH is proud to be a campaign partner of Lunch 4 Learning, a coalition-based campaign spearheaded by Community Food Advocates. The campaign fights for universal free school lunch for all New York City public school students—regardless of income—to eliminate the poverty stigma associated with free lunch. UNH helped to elevate this issue with City officials to make free school lunch a budget priority for FY 2015. UNH continues to be active in the campaign, which is now working to ensure that the program is implemented successfully in middle schools, laying the groundwork for expansion to truly universal free school lunch. The campaign is engaging with students, teachers, parents, and principals to make the roll-out of this program a collaborative process with the Department of Education, the City Council, and the Public Advocate.


Lunch 4 Learning

UNH staff participated in the Lunch 4 Learning Selfie campaign to elevate the issue of universal free school lunch. 

view gallery

Pictured above:  (from left) NYC Director of Food Policy Barbara Turk, Simone Herbin, UNH Executive Director Nancy Wackstein, Senator Liz Krueger, Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli celebrate Lunch for Learning's success. 

Why do we want universal free school meals for all NYC public school students?

Participation in the school lunch program is low—but not for a lack of need.

Changing the current system – which links school food with family income – gets rid of the income stigma that greatly impacts participation, especially as children get older. Students eating school lunch:

  • 81% in elementary, 61% in middle school, and 38% in high school.
  • 250,000 of the students who are eligible for free meals do not participate.

Universal School Meals Work

  •  NYC schools that provide free school lunch to all students through a federal incentive program called “Provision 2” had significant increases in the number of students eating, especially in middle and high schools. This proves true in other places that have universal free school lunch. 
  • Over time, an additional 120,000 children will eat school lunch each day.