The number of children in New Jersey who participated in federal summer meals programs on an average day last July was 103,194, a 38 percent increase since July, 2015, a new report has found. At the same time, federal meal reimbursement rose 71 percent, to $12.7 million. Meals were provided at 1,357 sites throughout the state, according to the report.
Despite this progress, the national Food Research & Action Center recommends that states reach 40 percent of low-income children who eat lunch at school, compared to New Jersey’s 26 percent participation rate.
Last year, 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 could 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.
“We expect to see even greater growth in 2020 as this new law takes hold and expands summer meals to children across New Jersey,” said Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey.