NJ law would get word out about free and reduced-price meals
New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation but that doesn’t mean everybody is getting enough to eat all the time.
According to a report from the group Hunger Free New Jersey, more than 13% of kids in the Garden State, about 260,000, are suffering from hunger.
A new law could soon take effect that would make it easier for children to get nutritious food at school.
State lawmakers have passed a measure that directs the Department of Agriculture to work with the Department of Education to develop promotional materials for parents and guardians about the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program.
The legislation has been sent to Gov. Murphy Murphy’s desk and awaits his action.
According to Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt, D-Camden, pamphlets, presentations and sample letters would be provided to all districts to make sure parents would be informed about the food assistance that’s available.
She said this kind of effort is needed “so that families are aware of the free and reduced lunch [and] families are aware of what school systems are doing to help provide meals to students.”
She noted that providing food at school is important because “many of our students, not all, when they get home, there’s nothing in the refrigerator. So we need to do the best we can in the environment when we have them for that limited time during the day.”
Lampitt also pointed out some parents don’t sign up for food assistance because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. She said parents should feel confident that “filling out a form is not going to stigmatize your child by providing them something less than somebody else. It’s not going to draw attention.”
The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services estimates the annual cost of the program would be $75,000 for materials and supplies.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com