New Jersey Assembly Committee Passes Bill Providing For Universal Free School Lunch

The New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee today advanced legislation which aims to provide universal free school lunch for all children in New Jersey by the 2028-2029 school year.

The bill, which is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, would require schools with lunch programs to provide free lunch to gradually increasing numbers of income-eligible students over a five-year phase-in period and, at the end of that five-year phase-in period, to provide free lunch to all enrolled students, regardless of each student’s household income or federal eligibility for free or reduced price school meals.

The legislation builds upon the Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act, which was signed into law last year.

Under existing federal law, a student is federally eligible to receive free or reduced price school lunch under the National School Lunch Program, or free or reduced price school breakfast under the federal School Breakfast Program, only if the student is determined to be categorically eligible for such benefits or can demonstrate that the student lives in a low-income household (i.e., a household with an annual income that is not more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level).

This bill would expands the existing State law on this issue by providing for the continued, but gradual, expansion of subsidized school lunch eligibility to students in higher income brackets, over the course of a five-year phase-in period, until all students are eligible for free school lunch, regardless of the students’ income and federal eligibility

The act will take effect during the 2023-2024 school year and stands to see upward of 26,000 more K-12 New Jersey students able to participate in free school meal programs.

However, the bill, as introduced would not include private schools in the expansion.

During today’s hearing, multiple groups and organizations testified in favor of the bill, with many calling on the bill’s sponsor’s to go a step further and allow for universal lunch immediately, without the five-year phase in period as currently required by the bill’s text.

In addition, all students who become newly eligible for free school lunch, under the bill’s provisions, would also be eligible to continue receiving free lunches through a summer meals program or through an emergency meals distribution program, as was enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the bill, the State would be required to provide funding to reimburse school districts for the cost of providing free lunch to state-eligible students who currently are federally ineligible under the National School Lunch Program or federal School Breakfast Program.

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Nothing is free in life. We who work hard to make money just pay for it with our taxes. Classic Robin Hood. there should be tzedaka/charity organizations to provide for the needy, not the government stealing our money.

      • No I don’t need free lunch. I work hard and with Hashem’s help have money to pay for my kids lunches. I also give tzedaka, but don’t want to be forced by the government.

  2. This is such a joke!
    “Anti hunger act”
    “Many calling on the bill’s sponsors to go a step further and allow for universal lunch immediately”
    This country is experiencing a slow death down the path of communism. Why work at all when you can sit on your butt and get anything – as long as there are enough losers who work and pay sky high taxes so the liberal socialists can steal your money to give some away and keep the rest…
    Our friend Bernie Sanders haRasha would love the progress Craig Coughlin is making here!

  3. Upon learning that universal free school lunch will be available for all children in NJ by the 2028-2029 school year, one NJ child lamented: “And what am I supposed to eat until 2028-2029? The grass in my backyard?!”
    “Quite frankly,” he added, “I’m starving at this very moment, and if I don’t get one of those universal meals very soon, I’m heading back to the ole cookie jar and ice cream pantry, much to chagrin of my parents.”
    The NJ child added: “Cookie jars and ice cream pantries are about as universal as you can get. I mean, who in this universe of ours doesn’t like cookies and ice cream?!”

  4. ploni olmoni, if you are a religious jew you should be ashamed of yourself. helping your fellow man is a dictate in the torah i don’t care if it comes from you directly or through the government. there are many families out there that don’t have enough food for their children even though they are hard working middle class incomers.SHAME ON YOU!!!!

    • Shmuel, it is only a dictate in the Torah if it comes from your own nedivus halev. Not if someone else takes it from you against your will and gives it to them. Just ask your Rov. That’s what my Rov says.

Comments are closed.