WATCH: Agudah NJ Legislative Affairs Director Shlomo Schorr Testifies On Lunch Bill

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz that would expand access to free school meals in both public and non-public schools that participate in the federal National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

The bill, S-4055, would expand access to free meals to more students from more families, further clarify that school breakfasts are included under the provisions for free school meals, and ensure that non-public schools participating in federal lunch and breakfast programs are included. These provisions would apply for the 2024-25 school year, during which the bill would further direct the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education to review the reimbursement’s to school districts for the financial cost of the program, ensure cost efficiency, and report on the number of students who receive free meals through the program. The information gathered during this time would inform future efforts or reforms to New Jersey’s school meal programs.

The legislation advanced following testimony from Agudath Israel’s New Jersey Director of Legislative Affairs Shlomo Schorr to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

In 2022, New Jersey enacted the “Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act”, which expanded access to free school lunch for children whose families annually earned not more than 199% of the federal poverty level. This bill further expands access to free meals to students who come from families with an annual household income of not more than 224% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, 224% of the federal poverty level would be equivalent to an annual income of roughly $67,200.

 

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