Lampitt on NJ Students Facing Food Insecurity During COVID-19 Pandemic

Following a joint hearing of the Assembly Education and Assembly Agriculture committees on Tuesday to discuss food supply issues and food insecurity facing New Jersey residents and students during COVID-19, Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) released the following statement:

“Ensuring that students relying on meal programs would maintain access to food was critical at the outset of this crisis. When schools closed and learning went remote, one of the first actions we took (A-3840) was to ensure that districts had the flexibility to continue providing meals to their students.

“Since March, we’ve seen incredible strides to ensure children in New Jersey aren’t going hungry as a consequence of this pandemic. Whether it’s been through the organization of community meal distribution centers, the delivery of meals by school bus drivers or the provision of meal vouchers, each district has found a way to meet the diverse need of its student body all while balancing the priorities of health and safety.

“It is the strong partnerships between our state agencies and community organizations, the commitment of school leaders, and dedication of school personnel as well as bus drivers and food service workers who are getting the job done.

“That said, we still face a hard road ahead as we confront new challenges to food access with the regular school year coming to a close and many families still struggling to put food on the table due to lack of employment.

“Thankfully, with expanded emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, the extension of summer meal waivers, and the $416.10 Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer soon making its way to nearly 600,000 students this June, the beginning of summer will not mean the end to reliable sources of food.

“For the Legislature, lessening the burden of hunger remains a priority. We extend tremendous gratitude to all those who testified today, for their enduring commitment and collaboration as we look to tackle the issues of food insecurity that have only amplified as a result of this crisis.”