Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Expanding Access to School Meals for New Jersey Students

Trenton – Advancing efforts to eliminate food insecurity among New Jersey’s young learners, Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation expanding eligibility criteria under the Working Class Families Anti-Hunger Act, A5684/S4055. Under the legislation, public and non-public schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or federal School Breakfast Program will provide a free school lunch and/or breakfast to students whose families have an annual household income of up to 224 percent of the federal poverty level, which will make over 60,000 families newly eligible.

“Access to nutritious food is a basic necessity for our kids,” said Governor Murphy. “We have made great strides in our fight against food insecurity, working together with those on the front lines to ensure our most vulnerable community members have access to a warm meal and empowering our schools to meet the needs of their students. Expanding student eligibility under the Working Class Families Anti-Hunger Act will provide more of New Jersey’s young learners with a free school lunch and breakfast so that they can go to class ready to learn, rather than wondering where their next meal will come from. Thank you, Speaker Coughlin, for your partnership in bridging the gap in food access.”

“I’m grateful to Governor Murphy for continuing to lead New Jersey’s efforts to combat food insecurity at its root causes and position our state as a national leader in food security work. With champions like Speaker Coughlin, Senator Ruiz, and our partners in the Legislature, New Jersey continues to utilize one of our most powerful tools for combatting hunger: policies that ensure more and more of our students are healthy and fed in school,” said Mark Dinglasan, Director of the New Jersey Office of the Food Security Advocate. “New Jersey’s food security work is comprehensive, ambitious, and multi-faceted, and we are able to create goals that are larger than the problems we’re tackling. It’s through our leaders like Governor Murphy and Speaker Coughlin that we are able to keep dreaming AND keep working towards a more food-secure New Jersey.”

“School meals are critical to children’s health and well-being, and they ensure that students have the nutrition they need to learn throughout the day. Hunger Free New Jersey applauds Governor Murphy, Speaker Coughlin, Majority Leader Ruiz, and all the sponsors of this legislation for championing efforts to expand access to healthy free school meals, helping NJ’s children to reach their full potential,” said Lisa Pitz, Director of Hunger Free New Jersey.

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