Combating Childhood Hunger

Creating Communities that Nourish Children

The New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign works in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to expand access to three federal child nutrition programs — school breakfast, summer meals and afterschool snacks and dinners.

The New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition co-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, New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition at


New Jersey has made great progress in serving school breakfast to more students. Expansion of summer and afterschool meals is also underway.

Read NJAHC’s New Jersey’s School Breakfast Story.

Still, tens of thousands of children in low-income families are missing out on this 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 21 percent received summer meals. We expect to have data soon for participation in the afterschool meals program.

Expanding Access to Federal Child Nutrition Programs

School Breakfast

Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 74 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign. This means about 105,000 more children are receiving school breakfast, pushing the state from nearly last in the nation to 19th in 2017.

Despite this progress, more than 302,000 low-income children did not receive school breakfast in April 2017, despite being eligible and already enrolled in the program.

Learn More.

Summer Meals

Tens of thousands of New Jersey children rely on school meals during the academic year. In the summer, children lack access to these meals and families struggle with tight budgets to put food on the table.

Federal summer meals programs provide a solution to summertime hunger for kids. Communities across New Jersey are increasingly offering free meals to children in the summer at schools, parks, libraries and other places where children congregate.

Learn More.

Afterschool Meals

The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, a relatively new addition to the array of federal child nutrition programs, is beginning to expand across New Jersey.

Recognizing that children need nutrition when the school day ends, many afterschool programs have long served a snack — often at their own expense. This program offers generous reimbursements for organizations to serve snacks and dinners to children who may otherwise go home to an empty table.

Learn More.

School Breakfast Increase

Hungry NJ Kids

Kids Receiving Summer Meals

Kids Receiving SNAP