(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Monday released multiple bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). which aim to encourage student participation in summer meal programs and school breakfast programs offered throughout the state.
In the State of New Jersey, 1.15 million residents, including 375,000 children, are food insecure. Increasingly, non-profit community-based and local government afterschool providers are offering summer learning programs to ensure students have access to educational enrichment opportunities during the summer months. However, the sponsor notes, during the summer months many children lose access to school breakfast and lunch programs and are at risk of going hungry.
“Many of New Jersey’s children and families rely on breakfast programs to meet nutritional needs during the school year,” Lampitt said. “Families also rely on summer learning programs in the same way. These programs should have the ability to provide participating children meals during the day and aim to feed their minds as well as their bodies.
“A greater effort must be made to inform parents about summer meal programs, where they are and when they happen.”
The following Lampitt bills were released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee, of which she is also chair:
- (A-4906) requires public and nonpublic schools to notify students and parents of availability of summer meal programs and locations where meals are served;
- (A-4908) directs the Department of Education to establish online applications for National School Lunch Program and school breakfast programs;
- Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR-54) designates the fourth week in April of each year as “Every Kid Healthy Week,” which is also sponsored by Assemblyman Arthur Barclay. “Every Kid Healthy Week” is part of a national movement to help schools and parents promote healthy lifestyle choices for their children.
Roughly 94,000 New Jersey children between the ages of 10 and 17 are considered obese, and an estimated 82,000 high school students in the State are considered overweight.
“Breakfast and summer meal programs are essential components today to education,” said Lampitt continued. “The greater the participation in these meal programs, the closer we are to ensuring that no child will go hungry in New Jersey.”
Lampitt is also sponsor of two Assembly resolutions approved by the committee. AR-254 urges President and Congress to expand access to afterschool summer meal programs and streamline application process for summer meals. The second resolution (AR-255) urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lower eligibility threshold for federal nutrition programs. Federal nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program, can be offered in areas where by definition more than 50% of children are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Lowering the threshold back to 40% to match the 21st Century Community Learning Centers level would increase access to more children.
All five measures will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.