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Coughlin Bill to Help Food Pantries with Transition to Reusable Bags Clears Legislature

Legislation to Give 6-Month Extension, Donate 500,000 Reusable Bags

Food banks and pantries have faced several challenges over the past two years with rising demand for food, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, and inflation straining operational capacity.

Recognizing that the ban on single-use carryout bags could further hamper food aid operations, Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex) sponsors legislation (A-2065) to give food banks and food pantries another six months to prepare for compliance with New Jersey’s ban on single-use plastic and disposable paper carryout bags beginning on May 4.

“The demand for food assistance persists and so what this legislation does is balance the desire to become a more environmentally friendly state with our ability to support organizations which continue to be critical in keeping people fed,” said Coughlin.

Cleared by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee last week, the bill received final legislative approval on Thursday, with passage 58-15-6 in the Assembly. The legislation would provide 500,000 free reusable carryout bags for the State’s food banks as part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s information and education campaign.

“By creating this extension in addition to distributing 500,000 reusable bags, we’re providing both the time and resources that we recognize pantries facing high demand need in order to be successful in making the shift,” said Coughlin. “We simply can’t leave our food insecure families behind and this bill thoughtfully ensures that we don’t.”

The bill goes to the Governor’s desk.