A report released this week from The Food Research and Action Center reports the number of New Jersey children served through the Federal After-school Supper Program increased dramatically between 2017 and last year.

New Jersey achieved one of the highest increases in the nation for serving suppers. After-school meals contribute to the healthy growth and academic achievement of children. advocates said.

Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, says the one-year increase from October 2017 to October 2018 was 22.5%. But we are still only feeding 5.4% of eligible Jersey kids, far below the federal brass ring of 15%. Achieving that benchmark would bring the state another $20 million in federal funding.

The national average is 6.2% of eligible children.

"We have breakfast, we have lunch and we have after-school suppers. It really seeks to provide that third important meal of the day for kids in schools and after-school sites," LaTourette said.

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5