Gov signs bills to combat hunger in NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy today signed into law a comprehensive legislation package aimed at reducing hunger in the Garden State.

The six bills will help expand access to the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), bolster school meal programs and establish the Office of the Food Insecurity Advocate. The bills were signed just in time to celebrate September’s Hunger Action Month.

“It is unacceptable that so many of our most vulnerable people are going without enough food,” Murphy said in a news release. “With today’s bill signings, we are continuing our ongoing commitment to end food insecurity in New Jersey by strengthening food assistance and providing support to communities across the state.”

The package includes:

S3945/A5884, which will create an Office of Food Insecurity Advocate to coordinate the delivery of nutrition benefits that are administered by various state agencies. The office holder will be charged with developing outreach initiatives, identifying best practices and conducting gap analysis to evaluate the efficacy of food programs.

A2281/S1078 requires the human services commissioner to streamline the SNAP application process for senior citizens and conduct outreach regarding senior SNAP participation.

A5880/S3941 directs the New Jersey Department of Human Services to develop mobile software for SNAP recipients and allocates $2 million for that purpose.

To reduce childhood hunger, A-5882/S-3943 provides a state-funded 10-cents per meal supplement for qualified meals served under the federal Summer Food Service Program, helping program sponsors to meet the cost of operating these critical summertime nutrition programs.

A-5883/S3944 provides a 10 cents per meal supplement for breakfast served after the bell through the federal School Breakfast Program. Breakfast after the Bell maximizes student participation in this program and enables districts to collect more federal funds.

A5690/S3772 requires the Department of Labor & Workforce Development to provide link to New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition

“Food security and access to proper nutrition are determining factors in every individual’s capacity to realize their full potential,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “The legislation signed today ensures the food needs of our most vulnerable in New Jersey continue to be met and strengthens our delivery of SNAP benefits and school meals. Most significantly, by creating a Food Insecurity Advocate, we are going to be better equipped as a state to strategically coordinate our anti-hunger initiatives, so no family misses out on access to critical food aid.”

Hunger Free New Jersey championed many of these measures, including streamlining the SNAP application for older adults and conducting direct outreach to this underserved population, providing state support for summer meals and breakfast after the bell and advertising SNAP through the state’s unemployment system.

“These measures will go a long way toward reducing hunger in the Garden State, especially for the tens of thousands of children who face hunger every day,’’ said Adele LaTourette, Director of Hunger Free New Jersey. “We applaud the Legislative leaders for advancing these important initiatives and Gov. Phil Murphy for supporting these measures. We look forward to working with the Murphy Administration to implement these changes.’’

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