An Assembly panel last week approved a package of 14 bills aimed at addressing hunger in New Jersey.
Led by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who has made hunger a top priority, the effort promises to curb hunger on college campuses, connect people with food assistance, raise awareness of hunger in New Jersey, reduce food waste and provide more healthy shopping options for people living in “food deserts.’’
The measures now head to the full Assembly, with a vote expected on Dec. 17.
We’re particularly excited about the Hunger-Free Campus Act, which would appropriate $1 million for a grant program to address hunger among students enrolled in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities. The bill would help more college students enroll in SNAP (food stamps) and allow them to use their benefits to buy food at campus stores. It would also help colleges establish food pantries and develop a “Swipe Out Hunger” student meal credit sharing program or designate a certain amount of funds for free meal vouchers.
Prior to the committee hearing, Speaker Coughlin held a news conference with Hunger Free New Jersey when we were joined by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, CUMAC, Catholic Charities and a former SNAP recipient, who all helped to draw attention to the issue of hunger in the Garden State and shore up support for the legislative package.
We will continue to work with lawmakers to advance these important measures.
Here is a quick look at the measures:
AJR-172 (Downey/Johnson/Holley) Designates Thursday of the third week of September of each year as “Food Waste Prevention Day” in New Jersey.
AJR-174 (Mejia/Benson) Urges large food retailers in State to reduce food waste.
A-4705 (Carter/Benson/Mejia) Establishes New Jersey Food Waste Task Force to make recommendations concerning food waste in New Jersey.
A-4707 (Tucker/Downey/Calabrese) Directs Dept. of Agriculture to establish public awareness campaign for food waste.
A-4708 (Houghtaling/Land) Establishes Farm Liaison in Department of Agriculture.
A-4704 (Taliaferro/Murphy/Verrelli) Directs Department of Agriculture to establish food desert produce pilot program.
ACR-204 (Reynolds-Jackson/DeAngelo) Urges New Jersey Judiciary to promote public awareness campaign for food growers to register as placement worksites for community service programs.
A-4701 (Spearman/Chiaravalloti/Mukherji) Requires DHS to establish electronic portal to promote surplus food donation collaboration among nonprofit organizations, gleaners, and food retailers.
A-4706 (Lampitt/Pintor Marin) Transfers authority over special nutrition programs from DOH to DHS.
A-4703 (Lopez/Holley/Kennedy) Requires Chief Technology Officer to establish “Anti-Hunger Link” for all State websites, providing information on emergency food services.
AJR-175 (Chiaravalloti/Spearman/Mosquera) Urges Chief Innovation Officer to prioritize enhancement of NJOneApp to include all State anti-hunger programs.
A-4702 (Wimberly/Jasey/Mukherji) “Hunger-Free Campus Act”; requires Secretary of Higher Education to establish grant program to address food insecurity among students enrolled in public institutions of higher education; appropriates $1 million.
A-4700 (Coughlin/Egan Jones/Mukherji) “Food Desert Elimination Act”; provides incentives to supermarkets and grocery stores that locate in “food deserts.”