NJEA is proud to support the following package of bills aimed at improving child nutrition.
A-679 Acs (Cryan, Benson, Singleton, Lampitt, Riley, Pinkin) establishes the “breakfast after the bell” program in school districts participating in the federal school breakfast program. This bill will allow students to grab a quick meal during their first-period class. It is one important way our schools can help make sure students are ready and eager to learn. This bill also requires an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature on the number and percentages of students from low income families participating in the school breakfast program.
A-2642 (Andrzejczak, Riley, Space, Dancer) allows for donations to help contribute to the New Jersey “Farm to School” program. The National Education Association, the NJEA’s national affiliate, is a supporter nationwide of the “Farm to School” program which is in all 50 States. Farm to School programs come in many shapes and sizes unique to the communities that build them. Farm to school programs improve the health of children and communities while supporting local and regional farmers. Allowing for the solicitation of private donations will help support these programs and build community involvement.
A-2643 (Space, Riley, Dancer, Wilson) establishes the “Best in New Jersey ‘Farm to School’ Awards Program” to recognize each year, the best farm to school programs implemented by a school district. The program will recognize schools for outstanding achievements in the incorporation of farm-to-school programs. The award will encourage innovation; good nutrition; and increased pupil awareness of the contribution of farmers and farms. Recognizing and complimenting the work of districts in the “Farm to School” program will encourage all districts to participate in this very important program.
A-2644 (Dancer, Andrzejczak, Space, Wilson) directs the Department of Agriculture to establish a clearinghouse website for farmers to offer produce and dairy products for use by school breakfast and lunch programs as well as food banks. Making access to fresh, locally grown food is a great idea and a common sense approach to healthy eating.
A-2840 (Lampitt, Mosquera, Schaer, Spencer, Pintor Marin) expands the school breakfast program to all schools with five percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced price meals. Currently, the vast majority of school districts serve breakfast to a fraction of eligible children. According to the Food Research and Action Center, New Jersey ranks 46th nationwide for its participation rate in the School Breakfast Program. In addition, by not participating, districts are losing money from the federal government. An estimated 90,000 children should be receiving this program. Expanding the breakfast program will go a long way to helping end childhood hunger. The evidence is clear, if a child starts the day off with a healthy meal, they are eager to learn and they perform better in school.
A-1796 (O’Donnell, Cryan) prohibits a school district from denying a student school breakfast or school lunch because payment is in arrears without prior notice to the parent. This legislation puts the burden of paying for lunch or breakfast in arrears on the parent and not the child.