Building Healthy Communities


Global Strategy Group

Funding Area

Building Healthy Communities


April 17, 2017


This NYHealth-funded survey by Global Strategy Group found that New York City voters overwhelmingly support universal free school lunch in public schools.

By making meals free for all students and delinking school food from family income, universal free school lunch can reduce the stigma of poverty and help ensure that children are receiving adequate nutritious food, which in turn improves children’s health and education outcomes. Global Strategy Group conducted a telephone survey in April 2017 on how New York City voters view universal free school lunch, finding that voters see it as a top priority for improving student health and academic performance and achieving greater equity. Providing free lunch to all public school students, regardless of socio-economic status, received strong backing by voters in all five boroughs, across income and race, and among individuals with and without school-aged children.

Key findings include:

  • 82% of New Yorkers support universal free school lunch.Two-thirds would be more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who supports free school lunch.
  • 72% say universal free school lunch should be a major priority for New York City, alongside other issues like affordable housing for seniors, police body cameras, and opening shelters for the homeless.
  • 89% believe that free lunch in public schools will provide significant financial relief to families in need.
  • New Yorkers believe that a free lunch program for all students from families of all income levels can:
    • Improve children’s physical and emotional health (88%);
    • Reduce stigma (79%); and
    • Positively impact academic performance and success for all students (86%).