The Department of Education’s community dining program offers free meals to all New Yorkers.
By: Alan Gregory
The DOE lunches include a variety of foods in each staple food group. Photo credit: Alan Gregory
For the past few months, I’ve been eating the same public lunches that I ate from day one of first grade to the last day of high school.
While I wouldn’t call the food restaurant quality, it’s tasty, nutritious, and saved my family from many costly trips to the grocery store. Not to mention there’s something nostalgic about eating one of those Jamaican beef patties.
It is relatively easy to enhance lunch in your home kitchen. One meal I have eaten frequently over the past few months has been the DOE’s black bean burrito. I open the tortilla, dry the filling again with some oil and then add a combination of spices.
The DOE has consistently been handing out free meals throughout the pandemic. This program has been vital for my family over the past few months of reduced hours, tuition, and surprise medical bills.
These meals are available on weekdays to all current New York public school students and their families (this does not apply to CUNY students). Collection for all public school attendants takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is available to community members between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The collection protocol may vary from place to place. I’m going to Curtis High School to pick up lunch. The pick-up entrance is on the side of the school. Upon entering, there are tables with six insulated bags full of meals.
As a rule, one person can approach and remove each bag. Each bag has a different type of prepackaged meal and you can have more than one at a time. Meal pick-up staff overview to monitor whether bags need to be refilled.
Vegetarian options are available at all pickup locations, while kosher and halal options are available in some districts.
Further information and a full map of the participating locations can be found at: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/school-life/food/community-meals