Earlier this week Governor Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and members of the Murphy Administration, joined together to highlight the ongoing efforts in New Jersey to address food insecurity.
“The holiday season is a poignant reminder of the many New Jersey families struggling to put food on the table every day,” said Governor Murphy. “As my Administration continues to pursue ways in which we can make life more affordable on behalf of New Jersey families, combating food insecurity will remain a critical part of those efforts. Alongside dedicated community and legislative partners, including food security champion Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, my Administration remains committed to working to strengthen food security to ensure that no one in our state goes hungry.”
Governor Murphy has signed numerous pieces of anti-hunger legislation this year, including a nine-bill package that embraced recommendations that Hunger Free New Jersey made in its 2021 SNAP Report, Boosting NJ SNAP: Eliminating Barriers to Participation, which identifies barriers to SNAP participation and advances solutions to make the program more accessible to residents in need. This package includes legislation to bring the New Jersey state SNAP minimum monthly benefit to $50 a household, giving low-income families and seniors more purchasing power and greater ability to access healthy food.
The Working-Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act, another piece of legislation signed by Governor Murphy this year that Hunger Free New Jersey worked on, will provide free breakfast and lunch to students from working-class families, ensuring that about 26,000 more New Jersey children are focused, fed, and ready to learn. Under this bill, the income eligibility level for free school meals will be adjusted up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning the children of a family of four making an annual income of up to $55,500 would now be eligible for free breakfast and lunch at school.
“No one should have the first and biggest challenge on any given day be how to feed themselves and their family. As we continue to make headway tackling hunger in our communities with a forward-thinking, innovative approach, the reality we face is a pandemic that has left an astounding number of people food insecure,” said New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “Bridging the gap between the front lines of hunger and critical food assistance programs must take center stage as we work to empower longer term stability for those in need. That’s why I’m proud New Jersey has fiercely fought at the state-level to do things like provide historic aid to food banks and pantries, expand access to a free school breakfast and lunch, create the nation’s first cabinet-level food security advocate, increase the minimum SNAP benefit for our seniors, and enact a state Child Tax Credit. Facing a looming hunger cliff as more and more federal food aid expansions end, we can’t let up on this fight.”