More hunger-focused bills set to be approved with NJ budget
TRENTON – Of the many bills positioned for final votes as the Legislature completes its efforts to approve the budget and begin its election recess, five address issues related to hunger, a long-standing priority for the President of the Assembly. ‘Craig Coughlin Assembly.
The bills include two that deal with how SNAP’s food aid benefits are administered, two that aim to improve summer meals and after-the-bell breakfasts for students aged one and over. and one that establishes a food insecurity advocate’s office.
MP Lisa Swain, D-Bergen, said food insecurity is one of the many challenges imposed by the pandemic.
“It would be an understatement to say that the residents of New Jersey have had a very difficult year and a half,” Swain said.
“The set of bills is aimed at improving and improving access to food aid programs in our state so that families do not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” he said. she declared.
The bills appear likely to be approved this week, as part of the enactment of the new state budget, although they are not on the agenda for Monday’s voting sessions. A budget agreement is possible on Monday, followed by committee votes on Tuesday and final approval on Thursday.
A budget must be in place before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
The set of bills would increase state spending on anti-hunger initiatives by about $ 5 million, primarily for a program encouraging schools to offer ‘breakfast after the bell’ programs by adding a state subsidy of 10 cents per meal.
MP Aura Dunn, R-Morris, said she participated in the school breakfast program as a child and knows the value of it – but has also heard from those responsible for the school talk about the amount of milk and food currently left in the program.
“We know there is a lot of waste in this program, which the federal government needs to tackle. But I don’t want to be behind something that just adds to that, ”Dunn said.
Dunn said the program is important but needs to be permissive, not mandatory, so that schools can find the most appropriate way to offer food at the start of the day.
“And to suggest that we should add state resources to now offer even more food, I think we can approach this much more effectively and manage it better,” she said.
Congresswoman Angelica Jimenez, D-Hudson, said that according to the part of the state, not all students can arrive for meals early in the morning before the bell.
“The kids can’t do it. I mean, they’re lucky if they make it to school on time. So I think that’s probably the reason this is being addressed, ”Jimenez said.
There are five bills in the hungry package:
- A5880 / S3941 orders Department of Social Services (DHS) to develop mobile-friendly software for SNAP recipients
- A5881 / S3942 requires DHS to stagger SNAP benefit issuance dates to eligible new registrants, to reduce queues at grocery stores
- A5882 / S3943 Establishes a state supplement for meals in the federal summer food service program; starts 6/1/22
- A5883 / S3944 Introduces a state supplement for “breakfast after the bell” meals; starts the 2022-23 school year, rather than immediately
- A5884 / S3945 establishes office of food insecurity advocate
Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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