New Jersey Senate Committee Set to Hear Universal School Lunch Expansion Bill

A New Jersey state Senate committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on a bill which would expand the eligibility limit for children to receive free breakfast and lunch in school.

The bill, which earlier this year was amended to include nonpublic schools as well, is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee this coming Thursday.

If passed, the bill, which is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, would require school districts and nonpublic schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to provide free lunch to students who are federally eligible for free or reduced price school lunch, as well as to students who are federally ineligible for free or reduced price school meals, but who have an annual household income up to 249% of the federal poverty level.

The legislation builds upon the Working Class Families’ Anti-Hunger Act, which was signed into law last year, and expanded eligibility to families who earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Nonpublic schools were excluded from the 2022 expansion.

This bill, which the full Assembly already approved, is a scaled-down version of a more expansive bill that would have phased in free school lunches for all students in the state – regardless of income – by 2028.

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