Ruiz Bill to Reduce Hunger in New Jersey Schools Clears Senate

Ruiz NJBOE photo 4

TRENTON – Today, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz aiming to reduce hunger in New Jersey schools. The bill was sent to the Governor’s desk.

The bill, S-3371, requires the Department of Agriculture to provide flyers regarding the summer meal program to each school district and nonpublic schools to be distributed to all enrolled students, parents and guardians in the State no later than June 1 of the school year.  Additionally, school districts and nonpublic schools would be permitted to provide electronic notice of the information through the usual means by which the school district or nonpublic school communicates with parents and students electronically.

“We must ensure that parents are aware of the assistance that is available for their children, not only to provide nutritious meals during the school year but also during the summer months,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We must utilize every possible means of communication available in order to ensure this important information is received and those who need this assistance get it.”

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) began in 1968 and is federally-funded and state-administered. Around the nation, more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years old and under are served. People who are mentally or physically disabled may also receive these meals. Meal site sponsors can be schools, local government agencies, camps, and faith-based and nonprofit community organizations.

Currently there are 116 summer meal sponsors and over 1,300 meal sites in New Jersey according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

According to Community FoodBank of New Jersey, 42 million people in the U.S. are food insecure. One million people in New Jersey face hunger every day and nearly 300,000 of them are children.

The bill was approved with a vote of 33-0 and was passed by the Assembly by a vote of 75-0 on June 22, 2017. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for further consideration