NORTH JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) has asked each Fifth District school superintendent how their districts are utilizing the federal National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, or their reasoning for not participating and their plan to meet the nutritional needs of their students.
Gottheimer is continuing his fight to ensure every North Jersey student has access to federally-reimbursable meal programs for free healthy breakfast and lunch. Fighting for New Jersey children and families, Gottheimer highlighted — in a letter to each Fifth District school superintendent this month — ways that districts can utilize federal investments to help feed North Jersey students and to lower the burden on municipal budgets.
“We cannot let a single child go hungry. It’s impossible for a child to succeed in school if he or she is hungry. When the result would be scores of students starting their day with a sharper mind, stronger body, and better chance of a successful school day, the excuse that providing these meals is too bureaucratically burdensome just doesn’t add up,” Gottheimer said. “As a strong proponent of clawing back federal funds to our communities, I believe that school districts must take advantage of these programs to help feed our children.”
Offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential childcare institutions. This program provides nutritionally balanced, low or no-cost lunches to children each school day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this program is eligible for every student regardless of income level. For families to also access the State of New Jersey’s $375 summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, their schools must participate in the NSLP. Therefore, it is critical that all school districts are participating in this program.
Schools that meet the requirements also have the opportunity to participate in the USDA’s free School Breakfast Program and further ensure our children receive the meals and nutrition they need.