5 Things NJ’s New Governor Should Do to Fight Hunger
The day after Governor Phil Murphy was sworn into office, Hunger Free New Jersey released a guide to hunger solutions in the Garden State. 5 Things NJ’s New Governor Can do to Fight Hunger outlined our top 2018 priorities for changes to state policy.
We have made strong strides in securing support for most of these initiatives. Here is an update as of January 2019.
- Give more hungry residents food aid through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps).
Update: S-839/A-3010 would provide more SNAP food aid to people receiving energy assistance. While this legislation garnered significant legislative support, details need to be ironed out to ensure the measure delivers on promised benefits. We are working with state lawmakers to ensure that happens. Stay tuned!
- Provide more children with a healthy school breakfast by requiring high-poverty schools to serve breakfast after the bell — the most effective way to feed hungry students.
Update: Gov. Murphy signed S-1894/A-3506 into law on May 31, 2018 as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing childhood hunger. This legislation requires high-poverty schools to serve breakfast during the school day, just like lunch, no later than the 2019-20 school year. We are now working with state and local officials to ensure successful implementation of this initiative.
S-1895/A-3503, also signed into law on May 31, 2018, requires every school district in which there is at least one school that qualifies for the Community Eligibility Provision, but is not using it, to report the reasons for not participating to the state departments of Agriculture and Education. This federal provision allows schools to feed all students for free and reduce paperwork associated with school breakfast and lunch.
- Reduce hunger among college students by requiring New Jersey’s 2- and 4-year colleges to convene a taskforce to address college hunger, while changing state policies to make it easier for college students to receive food stamps.
Update: In November 2018, the New Jersey Department of Human Services announced that it is changing state rules to allow more community college students to qualify for SNAP. The new rule will allow career and technical education courses to count toward the state’s work requirements, which had been a significant barrier for college students who could not meet the 20-hour per week requirement, while also attending school full-time.The Hunger Free Campus Act, (A-4702/S-3239), passed by the state Assembly in December 2018, would establish a grant program to help colleges address campus hunger. In addition to other provisions, colleges that accept grant funds would have to designate a staff member responsible for assisting students with enrollment in SNAP. It would also allow students to use SNAP benefits at campus stores.Both efforts promise to expand access to SNAP for college students.Encourage New Jersey communities to establish Hunger Councils to capitalize on summer meals and other federal nutrition programs and distribute information to mayors and superintendents about how to tap into federal summer meals aid.
Update: S-1897/A-3504, signed into law on May 31, 2018, requires school districts with at least half of students living in low-income households to participate in the federal summer meals program no later than summer 2020. Another bill requires school districts to notify parents about summer meals sites in their communities.
- Prohibit “lunch shaming” of students whose parents fall behind on school meals payments.
Update: S-1896/A-3502 now requires school districts to submit quarterly reports detailing how many students are denied school meals because of unpaid meal fees. This will help to combat “lunch shaming” in New Jersey schools.“We are so heartened by the great progress we are making in fighting hunger in New Jersey,” said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free New Jersey. “We commend the governor and the state Legislature for their leadership on this critical issue.”