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ICYMI: Now Law Coughlin, Mukherji, Moriarty & McKnight Legislation Helping Food Pantries Transition to Reusable Bags

Law 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 together with Assembly members Raj Mukherji, Paul Moriarty and Angela McKnight sponsor a new law (A-2065).

Signed by the Governor on Friday, it gives 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 that starts 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 (D-Middlesex).

The measure also provides 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.”

“It’s important to make sure we transition away from single-use plastic and paper carryout bags responsibly,” said Assemblyman Mukherji (D-Hudson). “By giving organizations that help fight homelessness and food insecurity more time to prepare for the transition to reusable bags, we can ensure our residents do not lose access to critical resources they need to keep food on their tables.”

“Food pantries and food banks perform a noble service in our communities. They are on the front lines in the fight against food and security,” said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This new law supports them as we move to reduce our reliance on the use of plastic bags throughout the state.”

“Food banks and pantries do important work connecting our food insecure residents with critical assistance,” said Assemblywoman McKnight (D-Hudson). “The new law gives food banks and pantries the time and resources they need to prepare for the upcoming statewide ban on single-use plastic and paper bags, ensuring they can continue helping countless New Jersey families in need.”

The law passed both houses of the Legislature last Thursday, with a vote of 58-16-1 in the Assembly.