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Senate Passes Ruiz, Greenstein Bill to Permit Food Distribution During School Closures

Trenton – To ensure low-income students have access to school meals during remote instruction, the Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Linda Greenstein, directing the Department of Agriculture to apply for the necessary waivers to allow for alternative methods of food distribution during school closures.


“When schools closed in March, one of our biggest concerns was how we could continue providing meals to our students,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “By allowing our communities to continue summer meal programs during school closures, we can meet children where they are and distribute meals at YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and other recreation centers until they can safely return to the classroom.”


The bill, S-2849, would direct the Department of Agriculture to request the necessary waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to authorize participating schools to extend Summer Food Service Programs and other emergency food distribution programs throughout COVID-19 related school closures.


“Ensuring that our school children have access to meals they may not be able to get outside of school is essential to their ability to learn and grow. COVID- 19 has exasperated the need to provide these needed meals to our communities,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By expanding and extending The Summer Food Service Program we can continue to ensure that kids learning from home or in a hybrid structure will have access to the nutrition they need.”


The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 34-0.