Hunger Doesn't Take a Summer Vacation
Hunger doesn't take a summer vacation Tens of thousands of New Jersey children rely on school meals to get the nutrition they need to be healthy and learn. In the summer, hunger sets in when these meals are not available and families struggle to put food on the table. Federal summer meals programs are warding off summertime hunger for a growing number of children across the state. New Jersey law requires school districts with at least half of children eligible for free or low-cost school meals to participate in a federal summer meal programs. The state, starting in 2022, will provide a 10 cent per meal supplement to federal reimbursements for summer meals.
How do Summer meals work?
Schools, local government and community organizations sign on to be a summer meals sponsor and provide food to sites in a community or communities. Sites can be libraries, schools, parks, pools, playgrounds, housing developments and other places where children congregate in the summer. Sites do not pay for the meals. Sponsors are reimbursed by the federal government for each meal served. The program is administered on the state level by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
The state of Summer Meals in New Jersey
In 2020, NJ communities served up more summer meals than ever before. With heightened awareness of the need to feed children during the pandemic & relaxed federal rules, New Jersey exceeded national benchmarks, reaching 51% of low-income children who receive free school lunch. Communities must continue to make summer food a priority beyond the pandemic.
Success with Summer Meals
Here’s a look at a handful of the many New Jersey communities tapping into federal dollars to feed kids summer meals.