North Jersey lawmakers on the state and federal levels are seeking to make sure meal programs are available to children returning to school this year.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer wrote to school superintendents in the 5th Congressional District requesting information about their plans to distribute meals safely to school breakfast and lunch eligible children during the coronavirus pandemic to students learning in-person and remotely.
“As students and families face this public health and economic crisis, many are also facing growing food insecurity,” wrote Gottheimer. “I know you have worked diligently to create strategies to protect students, educators, and staff in preparation for school to start in the fall.”
Specifically, the second-term Democratic congressman is seeking to learn how school districts will safely distribute school and lunch breakfasts to students learning in-person as well as how they will continue to safely distribute meals to students learning remotely.
Gottheimer voted for the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which provided $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs, including to about 500,000 students in New Jersey.
“I believe these resources are necessary to help schools cover the increased costs of preparing and distributing meals, packaging supplies, and protecting staff and students,” said the representative.
On a local level, the Assembly recently passed a resolution urging the the President and members of Congress to enact the CARE for Kids Act of 2019. The bill would provide automatic eligibility for free school meals to children being raised by grandparents or other relatives who are not their parents.
Sponsors Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Mila Jasey (D-20) and Annette Quijano (D-27) said in a press statement children in New Jersey and across the country rely on the breakfast and lunch they get served in school through federal meals programs.
“Passage of the CARE for Kids Act would expand automatic eligibility for free meals to students in the care of their grandparents or other family members,” they wrote. “In doing so, it would provide food security for children who have recently left foster care and for those who have found a home with relatives, ensuring fewer gaps in access to nutrition.”
Copies of the resolution were sent to President Donald Trump, Majority and Minority Leaders in Congress, and each member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation.