New York City has the biggest school system in the country. It just made lunch free.

Thousands of New York City public school students are about to find out that there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Carmen Fariña (left) with city first lady Chirlane McCray and New York City public school students. Photo by Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images.

At a Sept. 6 press conference, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that the city's "Free School Lunch for All" program, currently available to 75% of New York City public school students, will be made available to every student in the system beginning this academic year.


"Free School Lunch for All will provide financial relief to families and ensure all students are receiving nutritious meals so that they can succeed in the classroom and beyond," Fariña said.

The expansion in the country's largest public school system means an additional 200,000 students will be able to eat for free.

New York City joins Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and other major municipal school districts that have begun offering universal free lunch in the last five years, thanks to the Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision, which collects system-wide data to determine need for subsidized meal options, preventing individual families from having to apply.

Food insecurity is often hidden in plain sight in wealthy New York City, affecting up to 37% of residents in some neighborhoods.

A 2014 report found the average South Bronx resident involuntarily missed more than 35 meals per year.

"For so many students, school is the only place where they have access to a nutritious meal," New York Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal said in a press release. "Providing free lunch to the City’s 1.1 million public school students will ensure that their bodies are fed so that their brains can be nourished."

Better access to nutritious food has been found to increase school performance.

Studies of subsidized school breakfast programs, which have been around in various forms since the 1960s, have found that participating students demonstrate improved behavior and concentration and are less likely to repeat a grade. An August 2017 study found that improving the nutritional content of school lunches led to a small increase in test scores.

"While adults may be able to focus and concentrate better with poorer nutrition, with kids, they cannot necessarily control that, and they might be more distracted and less able to sit and learn if their basic needs such as sleep and nutrition aren't getting met," Tanya Altmann, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN in a March interview.

The city is inviting those kids to chow down — without having to ask.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo by Susan Watts-Pool/Getty Images.

"This helps New York City’s working families who struggled to pay $300 a year for school lunch, and it eliminates the stigma that we know kept some children from eating," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

Even on Taco Tuesday.

(Especially on Taco Tuesday.)

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Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

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"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

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"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

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"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

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"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

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