WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Wednesday hosted North Jersey superintendents to identify and discuss challenges they may face in distributing healthy and nutritious food to students across the Fifth District.
Gottheimer is a strong proponent for school districts to improve their school breakfast and lunch programs and for school districts to utilize available federal dollars to ensure that no student goes through a school day without the meals they need to succeed.
“Too often children begin school without the fuel they need to be active participants in the classroom. You can’t propel a rocket without fuel – the same goes for a growing student. They are rockets ready to take off to a successful life and career. But they won’t reach their dreams without fuel in the tank. That’s why I am committed to maintaining and strengthening critical food programs — like SNAP and the School Breakfast Program— that combat hunger,” Gottheimer said. “Now, as more students are learning through the hybrid model or fully online, their access to school lunches may be hindered, and we must ensure that students and families continue to receive meals throughout the fall.”
According to a report, New Jersey ranks last in the proportion of eligible schools providing breakfast. In 2017-2018, 2,630 NJ schools participated in the national school-lunch program, while 2,172, or 82.6 percent of them, offered breakfast. Nationally, more than 93 percent of schools that gave students free or reduced-price lunch also provided breakfast.
In 2018, Gottheimer called on school districts to improve their school breakfast programs and utilize available federal dollars to ensure that no student begins their school day without breakfast.
Earlier this month, Gottheimer wrote a letter to school superintendents requesting information about their plans to distribute meals safely to school breakfast and lunch eligible children during the coronavirus pandemic to Fifth District students learning in-person and remotely.
Currently, many schools are implementing accessible “grab and go” stations that are frequently sanitized and available for both students learning in-person and virtually.
Many school districts have also developed other innovative ways to address the unique challenges of their communities, including:
- Allowing families to pick up meals for multiple days at a time;
- Delivering meals for students learning virtually directly to their doors; and
- Allowing students to order and pay for their meals online to cut down on crowding and maintain confidentiality for free and reduced-price meal eligible students.