children are receiving summer meals, helping combat childhood hunger, according
to a new report by Hunger Free New Jersey.
New Jersey communities served up summer meals to more than 103,000 children on an average day in July 2018 through two federal summer meals programs, according to the report, Food for Thought: The State of Summer Mealsin New Jersey.
represents a 38 percent increase since July 2015, the report found. As a
result, federal meal reimbursements rose to $12.7 million – a 71 percent
increase since 2015.
tremendous progress and means that many more children who rely on school meals
will have a hunger-free summer,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director, Hunger Free
New Jersey, which leads the child nutrition campaign.
attributes the progress to a concerted effort by the New Jersey Department of
Agriculture, the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign, and it many partners, to
recruit more summer meal sponsors and sites and expand awareness of the
Jersey Department of Agriculture continues to recruit sites to participate in
the Summer Food Service Program this summer.
encourage schools, municipal government and community organizations to
participate in this essential child nutrition program to combat summertime
hunger and help kids return to school in September healthy and ready to
learn,’’ LaTourette said, adding interested parties should contact the New
Jersey Department of Agriculture at (609) 292-4498.
Despite this progress, the national Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) recommends that states reach 40 percent of low-income children who eat lunch at school, compared to New Jersey’s 26 percent participation rate. If New Jersey achieved that goal, communities would collect an estimated $5.2 million more in federal dollars each year to feed hungry children during the summer, according to FRAC’s Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation: Summer Meals Status Report, 2018.
summer, family budgets are stretched tight when many parents must pay extra for
child care and summer camps. At the same time, children do not have access to
school meals, meaning that thousands of New Jersey children face hunger in the
summertime hunger, the United States Department of Agriculture provides funding
to local governments, school districts and community organizations to serve
summer meals to children. These meals are typically served at places where
children congregate – parks, pools, libraries, camps and recreation programs,
among other sites.
2018, 127 summer meals sponsors provided meals at 1,357 sites throughout New
Jersey, according to the report.
to providing free, healthy meals, these programs also offer an opportunity for
children 18 years and younger to play together, engage in enrichment
activities, hone their academic skills and be better prepared when they return
to school in September.
New Jersey passed a law that requires any school district with at least half of
its students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals to participate in
the Summer Food Service Program.
Districts were allowed to request a waiver for this summer. Of the
127 districts affected by the mandate, 104 requested waivers. All but four were
granted. By 2020, all districts affected by the law must participate as either
a site or a sponsor.
Three school districts – Jamesburg,
Clifton and Stem Civic Charter School — opted to become new sponsors, while 20
others will team with an existing sponsor to operate a site at one or more
schools in their districts this summer, state officials said.
to see even greater growth in 2020 as this new law takes hold and expands
summer meals to children across New Jersey,’’ LaTourette said. “We look forward
to continuing to work with local and state leaders to ensure that every child
has healthy food to eat, every single day.’’
To learn more, contact the New Jersey New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-292-4498 or visit our summer meals page.