Last month, (The Food and Environment Reporting Network) reported that “school meal programs have lost more than $483 million so far during the pandemic.” What exactly is going on here, and why does this situation make the case for universal free school lunch?

To learn more about the financial stresses on school nutrition programs, Kat Johnson speaks to Karina Piser, who wrote that piece on

Then, Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance, makes the case for universal school lunch. By taking the burden of family income off of children, shifting resources from bureaucracy to nutrition, and destigmatizing poverty, universal school lunch would fundamentally change our public education system – and our society as a whole.

This episode is part of a three-episode mini-series created in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation. To learn more about the Foundation's Food Initiative and global commitments, visit 

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School Lunch

This project is funded in part by a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act. 

This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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