The Act is Designed to Allow More Working-Class Students to be Eligible for the Free Breakfast and Lunch Option, A Pathway to a Universal School Meals Program
(TRENTON) – Aiming to stem food insecurity for working class families, seniors and disabled residents, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) has put forward a 10-bill legislative effort expanding the State’s free breakfast and lunch meal program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
This package is the fourth set of measures sponsored by members of the General Assembly focused on strengthening food security. The bills will be considered by the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee on Monday.
“We’re in an ongoing fight against hunger in New Jersey,” Speaker Coughlin on the bill package. “These bills mark the next step in the Assembly’s efforts to put food on the table of every New Jersey resident who needs the support, to ensure that no one goes hungry. They will help us to chart the course for a more affordable New Jersey. Our efforts will prove meaningful for our communities both now and into the future.”
One of the measures (A-2368), sponsored by Speaker Coughlin, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (Camden, Burlington), and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris) would require free school breakfasts and lunches to be provided for students from working class, middle-income families. The bill is designated the “Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act.” By increasing the eligibility criteria, we can add another 26,463 under the free breakfast and lunch program for a cost of approximately $19.2 million annually.
“The Working Class Families Anti-Hunger Act is critical to meeting the needs of many working class, middle-income families and puts us on direct a path to feeding breakfast and lunch to every child who needs it,” said Coughlin. “Exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, many New Jersey residents experienced unemployment and faced food insecurity as a result. Many are still struggling to keep up with bills, which means helping keep money in people’s pockets while ensuring their most basic needs are met has never been more important.”
Unfortunately, nearly 10 percent (116.7 million) of U.S. households were food insecure throughout 2020. By increasing the eligibility requirements for families from those are 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 200% of the FPL, the Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act will allow more working-class students access to the free breakfast and lunch option.
The full legislative package includes the following bills:
- A-2368 (Coughlin/Lampitt/Jasey) Requires Free school breakfasts and lunches to students from working class, middle-income families; designated as the “’Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act”;
- A-2359 (Tucker/Moen/Haider) Provides for streamlining of SNAP application process and establishes SNAP application call center;
- A-2360 Reynolds-Jackson/Mukherji/Speight) Eliminates the requirement that participation in NJ SNAP Employment and Training Program is mandatory for certain recipients;
- A-2361 (Jimenez/Sumter/Timberlake) Requires DHS to develop and implement SNAP outreach plan; appropriates funds;
- A-2362 (Freiman, Mosquera/Sampson) Requires DHS to submit a federal waiver request regarding time limits for certain SNAP recipients under certain circumstances;
- A-2363 (Stanley/Mejia/Lopez) Concerns SNAP services provided at county boards of social services;
- A-2364 (Spearman, Pintor Marin/ Atkins) Makes FY2022 supplemental appropriation of $800,000 to DOH to implement electronic benefits transfer system for Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program;
- A-2365 (Danielsen/Giblin/Jaffer) Require the DOA to engage in a public education campaign to educate parents and guardians of students about existing and expanding school meals program options in New Jersey;
- A-2366 (McKnight/Carter/Verrelli) Requires DHS to issue a monthly supplemental SNAP benefit of $15 to senior citizens and disabled enrollees; appropriates $20.5 million to DHS;
- ACR-109 (Karabinchak, Murphy/Calabrese) Urges United States Congress to pass the “Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021.”