Free Meals for All New Yorkers Starting Friday; Childcare Programs Expanded

Some schools are now Regional Enrichment Centers for children of essential workers; 400 locations will provide three meals a day to all New Yorkers

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What to Know

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City public schools will be closed until April 20 at the least, possibly later
  • In the meantime, schools will offer free meals to all adults and kids (find a free meal location here). Some schools have become childcare centers for children of first responders, transit workers and health care workers
  • To comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance, the Deparment of Education says the sites will be regularly cleaned and disinfected

New York City is expanding its free meal services served at hundreds of schools to include all New Yorkers, regardless if they have children or not.

All adults, children and families are able to get three free meals each day at the more than 400 locations across the city, most of which are city schools which will be closed until at least April 20, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. There is a significant possibility the closures last longer.

Around 100 schools have turned into so-called Regional Enrichment Centers (REC), the mayor said, which will be for the children of essential services workers — first responders, medical workers, transit employees and others.

The city's Department of Education also announced a partnership with Door Dash that would allow meals to be delivered across all five boroughs to medically fragile students. Those students include children with compromised immune systems, or ones who lack the mobility to access meals at the distribution centers.

There were more than 800 students identified who will be eligible for delivery of breakfast and lunch, and soon will have the option to have dinner delivered as well.


The NYC Department of Education says hundreds of schools will provide three meals per day Monday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Meals for children and families will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and adults from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The DoE said that no one will be turned away and no identification is required. All three meals can be picked up during the same visit, and must be taken off premises to eat. Use the city's Find a Meal finder to look up the nearest location to you.

Families are also able to request a device from DOE so their children can continue education via remote learning. Here's the form to get started.


There will be about 100 Regional Enrichment Centers across the city, according to the DOE. The centers opened March 23 and operate each weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. They're in every borough, with at least two in each district.

These centers offer remote learning, three free meals, childcare, along with art, music and physical education for children of first responders, transit workers and health care workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is expanding its criteria starting Friday, March 27, to cover grocery and pharmacy workers, more Health Department staff, essential workers at Probation and Environmental Protection and Staten Island Ferry and NYC Ferry workers. Get full details on the RECs here.

"Please complete the survey today ONLY if you are a health care worker, first responder, or transit worker," the NYC Department of Education said.

After the form is submitted, parents and guardians will be contacted by a DOE official within 48-72 hours and they will be provided with additional details about where and how to bring their children to a REC site.

In order to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance, DOE says the REC sites will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Social distancing protocols, such as maintaining 6 feet distance between people, will also be in place.

If you are an educator and interested in helping out at one of these centers, click here to fill out an interest form.

New Jersey

New Jersey elementary school students will be able to tune in to public television to follow classroom lessons that they've been missing since the statewide closure of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, is partnering with the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey Department of Education to launch a new series of instruction called "NJTV Learning Live." 

On weekdays, starting on April 6, children can tune in to NJTV for on-air classes, taught by some of New Jersey’s public school teachers. The on-air classes will be taught daily for grades 3 through 6 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on NJTV (click here to find your local channel). 

Gov. Phil Murphy says it is "overwhelmingly likely" that his state's schools will remain shut down for longer than the initial two-week period, possibly remaining closed for the rest of the academic year.

The governor also unveiled a new plan to help support child care costs for workers deemed to be "essential." For those who sign up, the program will give financial assistance to help the children of those workers attend the child care centers, providing between $336 and $450 per week depending on the child's age and level of schooling.

As of April 1, all child care centers were ordered closed by the governor unless they were on a military base for federal property, served fewer than five children, or registered with the state to exclusively provide care for essential workers. There are 600 centers throughout the state that agreed to be part of that program.

For all the latest details, visit New Jersey's Department of Education website. Some local districts are trying to help ensure kids get enough to eat.

In Paterson, parents and guardians will pick up student meals twice a week starting Wednesday, March 25. They'll be able to pick up enough student meals for that day, Thursday and Friday. When the sites reopen on Monday, parents and guardians will be able to pick up enough student meals for two days (Monday and Tuesday). The sites will continue to be open on Mondays and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. until further notice.

Beginning Monday, March 30, a new roster of distribution sites will go into effect. The locations are as follows:

In Ward 1:
Public School No. 28, 200 Presidential Blvd.
Public School No. 12, 121 North Second Street

In Ward 2:
Public School No. 7, 106 Ramsey Street
Public School No. 19, 31 James Street

In Ward 3:
Public School No. 20, 500 East 37th Street
STARS Academy, 765 14th Avenue
Paterson Riverside Veterans Recreation Center, 161 Fifth Avenue.

In Ward 4:
Public School No. 21, 322 10th Avenue
St. Luke Baptist Church, 139 Carroll Street

In Ward 5:
The Full Service Community Center, 518 Market Street
The Great Falls Academy (GFA) Program at Public School No. 11, 350 Market Street
Temple Shalom, 586 Main Street

In Ward 6:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Education Complex, 851 East 28th Street
Public School No. 9, 6 Timothy Street


Connecticut has two distinct categories for handing out meals to students: One group is of schools or districts authorized to serve meals ONLY to students who attend their schools (or another child under 18 years old living in the same household as a student). Find the list of schools under that category here.

The other category is of towns or cities that can provide meals at distribution sites to any child under 18 years old, no matter if they live there or attend school there. Find the list of towns and cities under that category here.

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