Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Andrzejczak, and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson to boost financial support for New Jersey’s “Farm to School” program and promote healthier food options for students was approved unanimously by the General Assembly on Thursday.
The object of the New Jersey Farm to School program is to provide agricultural products to school food service departments to serve healthy meals to improve student nutrition, provide health and nutrition education opportunities that will last a lifetime, and support local farmers. The program was developed by the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Department of Education.
The bill (A-2641) approved today would create the “New Jersey Farm to School and School Garden Fund” and allow taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to the fund on their state gross income tax returns to support Farm to School program initiatives.
“New Jersey has a proud farming industry which we should utilize and promote to cultivate better eating habits among our children,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “The Farm to School program introduces children to healthier food options and supports local farms. There may be residents who would like to support this program, but may not know how. This bill would give them the opportunity to do so with a simple denotation on their state tax returns.”
“Most people are willing to donate to a good cause if the donation process is simple and straightforward. The Farm to School program is one that tends to garner universal support because of all of its benefits, yet we don’t give residents the opportunity to support it,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill streamlines the donation process by giving residents the option to make a direct donation to the program right on their state tax returns.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.