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Free Meals Cases

Free Meals Cases

C.D. v. New York City Department of Education and consolidated cases

Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), with the help of pro bono partner Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, brought these cases to court, challenging the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE’s) failure to provide free breakfast and lunch to children with disabilities who would ordinarily be entitled to receive meals in school, but who had to attend special education private schools because the DOE did not offer them an appropriate public school education.  In February 2009, the Court permitted the case to proceed, ruling that the DOE’s failure to provide meals to these students with disabilities could violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Court said, “Disabled students should not have to choose whether to learn or to eat, and the law does not require them to choose.” 

The DOE agreed to settle the litigation in the summer of 2010, providing reimbursement for the costs of the meals while the six students attended private school for the past 5 years.  In addition, the DOE has initiated a program by which it will reimburse special education private schools to provide free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches to all students who would be eligible to receive these meals if they attended public school.

Associated Documents:

Opinion and Order [PDF], February 11, 2009