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Ruiz, Turner Bill to Require Department of Agriculture to Promote School Meal Programs Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Shirley K. Turner that would require the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Department of Education, to develop promotional material for the “School Meal Program” and provide it to every school district in the state was approved today by the Senate.

“Publicizing the value and importance of the National School Lunch Program, the federal School Breakfast Program, and the Summer Food Service Program, can make an important contribution to the well-being of our kids,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).  “We hope that this bill makes our families aware of the resources that they can benefit from.”

“Any promotional material that shows families how to take advantage of the federal resources that meet their needs is a step in the right direction,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer and Hunterdon).  “When it comes to basic nutrition, we should not leave any money on the table in Washington, particularly when it can be used to provide balanced meals for children.”

The promotional materials required by the bill, S-2527, include, but are not limited to, pamphlets, presentation material, webinars and sample letters schools may send to parents.

A recent report by the Food Research and Action Center showed that New Jersey ranked 19th in the country for its low-income student participation rate. Even when breakfast is provided, students often cannot partake due to missing buses and arriving late or have too little time to sit down and eat their breakfast. New Jersey has made significant strides since 2011 when the State ranked 46th in the nation, but the progress has since stalled.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 37-1.