ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) -Included in Governor Hochul’s conceptual budget is $134 million towards school lunches. When it comes to school lunches, different groups and legislators are hoping to increase the aid currently proposed. According to school lunch director and member of New York State School Nutrition Public Policy Committee, Patrick Kenneally, Hochul’s plan to solve hunger in schools is not where it should be.

“When the governor released the $134 million funding, she stated that it was gonna go towards low-income populations, but also said regardless of income. So she kind of contradicted herself,” described Kenneally.

Jessica Pino-Goodspeed, with Hunger Solutions New York, says families just over a certain income are out of luck. “Under the current program, a family of four must make under $51,000 a year, far below a living wage, in order to be income eligible for free school meals,” explained Pino-Goodspeed.

This comes as a change from during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the federal government stepped in to help. “After the pandemic, schools lost federal waivers that funded universal free meals. Going into this school year, a lot of schools are experiencing extremely high lunch debt,” stated Kenneally.

The legislature’s original plan to fund school lunches would have been more than enough according to Pino-Goodspeed. She hopes New York continues to work on their model and follow after other states. “The $280 million commitment that the legislature had in their respected one house budgets would have gotten this done in New York. California, Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, have all these policies in place. They saw this choice, they saw what was on the line and implemented a permanent universal policy,” said Pino-Goodspeed.

Since the budget is still conceptual, changes to school lunches can still be made. Hunger Solutions New York hopes to see the state cover the program fully by next year’s budget.