On Friday, May 21, Freeport Public Schools organized and hosted a press conference for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s promoting the Universal School Meals Act of 2021. During the press conference, held at Caroline G. Atkinson School, Sen. Gillibrand spoke about the necessity and importance of the bill that would enable all school aged children, regardless of income, to receive free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. Those attending the press conference included Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, members of the Board of Education, administrators, the Mayor of the Village of Freeport and President/CEO of Island Harvest Randi Shubin Dresner.

Dr. Kuncham opened the press conference and introduced Senator Gillibrand. “Our schools have always been central to the lives of our families and community. We strive to provide equal academic opportunities for all children and nutritional support is essential to academic success and wellness,” said Dr. Kishore Kuncham, Superintendent of Schools. “The Universal School Meal Program Act will improve the lives of our children and enable them to be better prepared to succeed! We thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and advocacy to provide a seamless and permanent solution for all children to this significant issue.”

Since 2018, Freeport Public Schools has provided all students a healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no charge each day of the school year through the Community Eligibility Program. With the Universal School Meals Act of 2021, Freeport is supporting a permanent, federal meal program providing nutritious meals to ensure all students nationwide can benefit from healthy meals year-round.

The bill introduced by Senator Gillibrand and Senator Bernie Sanders has been endorsed by several legislatures and over 360 organizations. Along with Island Harvest, a key fresh food provider for Freeport Schools, the senator spoke to the importance of the bill and providing meals for students in order to combat hunger.

“More than 12 million children in the United States lived in food insecure homes at the height of the pandemic. Through a combination of federal waivers, many schools for the first time were able to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of their income, but this is only a temporary program.” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “The Universal School Meals Act of 2021 is a permanent solution to providing free meals nationwide to all students.”

Closing the press conference, students from the Caroline G. Atkinson School thanked Senator Gillibrand for coming and presented her with a Freeport Public Schools baseball hat and t-shirt, which she proudly accepted. Following, she expressed to the students the importance of enjoying school and studying to find their passions.