TRENTON – Today the Senate Education Committee approved legislation, sponsored by Senator James Beach, aiming to promote healthy meals in schools cafeterias.
“While schools have drastically reduced the use of soft drinks and snack machines in their cafeterias, there is still much work to be done to ensure that nutritious options are available throughout the state and that students are making healthy choices,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “In New Jersey, nearly 25 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are overweight or obese. This bill will help reduce this problem by promoting a healthy diet while ensuring that children continue to receive meals that meet strict standards.”
The bill, S-2113, requires the Commissioner of Education to do everything possible to assist, guide, and support school districts, public and nonpublic schools in the planning, establishing, and implementation of The Smarter Lunchroom Movement model. Among the planning strategies are to highlight fruits and other nutritious foods next to the cash register or to be display in visible places in the menu for students to see. In addition, the bill also requires that the information of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement be available on the Department of Education’s website in plain language format and accessible to users.
The Smarter Lunchroom Movement was founded by researchers at the Cornell University, Professors Dr. David Just and Dr. Brian Wansick, who are among the nation’s leading experts in consumer behavior and food psychology. Currently, over 29,000 schools in the country have implemented Smarter Lunchroom strategies and the average school implementing these strategies has at least 45 percent of students eligible for free and reduced priced lunch. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement applies research-based principles that lead children to make healthy choices when provided with the full spectrum of choice.
The program was developed to provide schools with the resources and training to provide a lunchroom environment that promotes healthy food choices and makes these choices appetizing to students. They do this through free or low-cost strategies that are evidence-based. Lunchrooms that implement the program often see less waste and increased consumption of nutrient-rich foods.
S-2113 was approved by the Senate Education Committee with a vote of 4-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.