If you're a parent and a New Yorker who would like a chance to win a trip to Hawaii in February to attend the NFL's Pro Bowl, please read on.
New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein, deputy mayors Dennis Walcott and Linda Gibbs, and the New York Jets on Tuesday announced a sweepstakes to encourage parents to submit the application for free and reduced-price lunches for their children.
Parents will automatically be entered in the contest when they submit the application form. The winning family receives a trip, sponsored by the Jets and their community partner Burgdorff Realtors ERA, to the Pro Bowl.
The sweepstakes is part of the Department of Education's "Feed Your Mind" campaign to ensure that eligible students receive lunches served in city public schools at a reduced price or for free.
For the first time, families can access the lunch applications through ACCESS NYC, the online tool that allows New Yorkers to prescreen on a single website for human services benefits offered by more than 35 different city, state and federal programs. The online application simplifies the process for families with children in different schools, allowing them to submit one application for all of their children instead of separate applications for each child.
The chancellor and deputy mayors were joined at DOE Headquarters by Jets wide receiver Wallace Wright, Jets community relations director Jesse Linder; Kate Houston, the U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services; Councilman Robert Jackson, deputy chancellor Kathleen Grimm, and from the Office of SchoolFood, executive director David Berkowitz and chef Jorge Collazo.
"The New York Jets are committed to supporting nutrition and fitness for New York City's students," Wright said. "Whether it is through the SchoolFood 'Feed Your Mind' program or our partnership with the Public Schools Athletic League, the Jets work to encourage good nutrition and thriving sports programs. I'm particularly proud to be part of the effort to educate families about the importance of eating properly and how the public schools help make that possible."
"Eating properly is essential for children's health and academic performance," Klein said. "We want every child who is eligible to get their meals at school either for free or at a reduced price, and we need to receive forms from parents to ensure that this happens. I want to thank the Jets for providing a special incentive to encourage families to participate."
Walcott said that under Mayor Michael Bloomberg the program has revolutionized its meals for public school students and all residents, including seniors.
"For example, the school menu items are more nutritious and comply with new standards we announced last month," he said. "Schools also give students a choice of fresh fruits every day, and the menus have been reformulated to reduce salt and sugar and eliminate trans fats."
"Through ACCESS NYC," said Gibbs, "the city offers families an easy online option for submitting their school meal applications and can also determine if they qualify for other crucial benefits. We encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to log on to www.nyc.gov."
The Department of Education serves 860,000 meals each day. The lunch application is essential in determining federal reimbursement for the expenses that the city incurs in providing these meals. The department also uses the application to help determine Title I funding for schools and student eligibility for supplemental educational services.
All students whose applications are processed by Nov. 26 will be eligible for a variety of prizes, including the Pro Bowl trip. The grand prize winner will be selected in a random drawing and announced Dec. 23. This is the fourth year the Jets have donated a trip to the Pro Bowl.