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Assembly Speaker Coughlin Unveils Sweeping Bill Package Tackling NJ Hunger Crisis
Bills Discussed During Press Conference at Community FoodBank in Hillside;
Legislation Aims to Help Over One Million Residents Facing Food Insecurity
(TRENTON) - Building on the promise to strengthen food security in New Jersey, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin Monday discussed the hunger gap faced by many families in the state while unveiling a comprehensive legislative bill plan aiming to close this gap, ensuring no one, especially children, go hungry.
Speaker Coughlin said each bill is a meaningful step in addressing broader hunger concerns, such as food deserts, poverty, access to state programs and resources and excessive food waste.
"Too many families in New Jersey have to choose between paying their bills and eating a nutritious meal. In our urban and rural communities, some families live more than a mile away from a supermarket, limiting their access to healthy food options," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex) after touring the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside. "These bills not only address the rising number of young children affected by hunger but also the increasing trend of hunger surfacing on our college campuses. We're improving access to state resources, engaging food banks and bringing together schools and state departments to fight hunger in New Jersey."
Among the bills in the package is legislation that would establish an "Anti-Hunger" link to be posted on all state government websites, listing all of the state's food programs including food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens; two bills addressing food insecurity among students on college campuses - The Hunger Free Campus Act- and reimbursing school districts that purchase NJ grown produce for their school breakfast and lunch programs; and also a measure that would enact the "Food Desert Elimination Act" by establishing incentives to attract and retain qualified supermarkets in the state's food deserts.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey Executive Director Renee Koubiadis, and constituents actively involved in food banks also attended the event.
"One of nearly every six children you see on the playground is facing food insecurity at home. One in every six," said Quijano (D-Union). "We have to do something to feed families. We have to do something to connect families to programs and give those programs greater resources. Making nutrition programs easier to find and apply for will help put food on the table for many who are currently fighting hunger."
"Direct legislative action to combat hunger is long overdue in New Jersey," said Koubiadis, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey Executive Director. "I applaud the efforts of the Speaker and Assembly members to turn the spotlight on the hunger crisis being faced in many homes and communities throughout the state."
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