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The New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign works in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to feed more hungry children through federal child nutrition programs — school breakfast, summer meals and afterschool snacks and dinners.
When communities capitalize on these programs, they reclaim taxpayer dollars sent to Washington D.C. and bring them back to New Jersey to feed children. This is the most efficient and cost-effective way to end childhood hunger in the Garden State.
Hunger Free New Jersey leads the campaign, working at both the state and local levels to convince state and community leaders to support and advance efforts to ensure more New Jersey communities work together to feed hungry children all year long.
If you would like more information or need help in forming a local coalition to advocate for expansion of child nutrition programs, please contact Lisa Pitz, outreach director, Hunger Free New Jersey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On May 31, 2018 Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a school breakfast bill that will give tens of thousands more NJ kids a healthy start to their school day. The new law requires that schools with 70 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals provide breakfast during the school day. According to an analysis by Hunger Free New Jersey and the Food Research & Action Center, 648 schools educating more than 327,000 students will be required to serve breakfast “after the bell” no later than September 2019.
Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 65 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign.
This means that an additional 88,000 children are receiving school breakfast each day, pushing the state from nearly last in the nation to 21st in 2019. As a result, New Jersey school districts have more than doubled the federal dollars they receive to provide breakfast, from $47.5 million in FY 2011 to an estimated $105 million in FY 2018, according to state budget figures. Despite this progress, schools are still not serving more than 300,000 students breakfast on any given day, mostly because many continue to serve the meal before school when most students have not arrive.
New Jersey communities achieve a 38 percent increase in summer meals participation from 2015 to 2018. Despite this great progress, only 26 percent of children receiving free or reduced-price lunch received this summertime nutrition. A new law requires high-poverty school districts to participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program by summer 2019, unless granted a waiver by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. All districts with at least half of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals must participate by summer 2020.
This will help to expand access to summertime nutrition for tens of thousands of children who rely on school meals during the academic year. Hunger Free New Jersey will work with districts to help them implement successful programs that reduce childhood hunger.
A growing number of New Jersey children are receiving snacks and suppers after school, contributing to their health and academic achievement, but thousands who could benefit from these meals remain unserved.
The Food Research & Action Center found that the number of New Jersey children receiving afterschool meals through two federal programs inched up 4 percent from October 2016 to October 2017, when nearly 61,000 children received a snack or meal on an average day. Most of that growth was in afterschool suppers, which rose 13 percent during that time. Read the release.
Tens of thousands of children in low-income families are missing out on critical nutrition – and our communities are failing to claim millions of federal dollars that could be coming back to New Jersey to feed hungry children.
National standards recommend that 70 percent of low-income children who receive free or low-cost school lunch also receive breakfast, while 40 percent should receive summer meals and 10 percent should have afterschool meals.
In 2017, 57 percent of New Jersey’s low-income students who ate school lunch also had school breakfast, while about 24 percent received summer meals. We expect to have data soon for participation in the afterschool meals program.