New York City to offer free lunch to all public school students

Students line up to receive food during lunch in the cafeteria at Bowie High School March 11, 2004 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jana Birchum/Getty Images)

New York City public schools will offer free lunch to every student when the new school year starts.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina announced the new lunch policy Wednesday.

About three-quarters of the city's 1.1 million public school pupils qualify for free or reduced-price lunch under federal guidelines. But many eligible students haven't received the free meals, often because parents neglect to fill out the required paperwork.

Advocates for child nutrition have long urged the city to ensure universal access by making lunch free.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio says free school lunch will "ensure that every kid in New York City has the fuel they need to succeed." The new school year starts Thursday.

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