Even though Mayor De Blasio is getting a ton of heat for keeping schools open last Thursday, there are thousands of kids and parents throughout New York City who are thankful he did.
Certainly getting around was more difficult, but the fact is that hundreds of thousands of New York City children depend on public schools for at least one meal of the day. Furthermore, countless parents cannot afford to sacrifice one day's pay to stay at home to watch their kids.
I own a restaurant in TriBeCa. Like many small businesses throughout the city, we were open on Thursday. Every employee scheduled that day came in, even the ones with kids. If the schools weren't open, our employees would have had to call out. It would have been a problem for our restaurant and a bigger problem for our employees who are hourly.
The Mayor and Chancellor Farina said it was up to parents to make the decision as to whether or not they would bring their kids to school. What they were really saying is this: if you can afford to stay home with your kids, by all means do so. If you are a parent who is relying on an hourly paycheck, the schools will be open, you can go to work and your kid will get fed.
1 in 5 kids in New York City are food insecure. Those kids often don't know where their next meal is coming from. However, if they are in school, they are being fed.
People upset with open schools being open readily took to Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to vent their frustration. The media quickly picked up their messages. Yet we should be mindful of the huge number of parents that need schools open, who are too busy working and caring for their children to tweet about the inconvenience of having school open during a storm.
Every parent knows that getting your kids to school in terrible weather can be a harrowing ordeal. Still, we should not forget that for many kids in New York, going to school is the only way that they can have a hot meal for lunch and that their parents can afford to put dinner on the table when they get home.
We can't control the weather, but we can take steps to stop childhood hunger. Thank you, Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Farina, for making the bold decision that ultimately allowed thousands of New York City children to have a warm meal on a cold day.