More than half of all children with autism have at least one parent with an income of less than $100,000, and those children are not eligible for free lunches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That means a large percentage of students with an autism spectrum disorder are at risk for hunger when they come to school.
A free lunch program could help alleviate the hunger problem for students with ASD by providing meals at school.
That would help families stay afloat and help students get on with their education, said Mary Ann Dvorak, director of the Center for Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities.
The program would provide a meal to students who are eligible for a lunch program at the school and could offer free lunched meals for families with children with special needs.
The plan also would provide financial support for teachers and staff.
The district could offer scholarships to students to pay for food, which is a way for them to get their feet wet.
More than one in four students with the disorder live in poverty, according the Centers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools offer free or reduced-price lunches to students at all times.
A study published last year found that the rate of obesity among students with disabilities was about one-third higher than among the general public.
In addition to helping families with autism, the plan would also help families who are currently struggling financially because of an illness, including children who are disabled or disabled-in-waiting, said Jennifer A. Todaro, the deputy director of education for the Yonkers City School District.
The Yonker City School Department’s administration and leadership have been working to implement the plan, she said.
The proposal will likely be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday, according.
The council will consider the plan at its next meeting, which will be held on Feb. 28.