Changing policy and practice to ensure all New Jerseyans have healthy food, every single day

Feeding NJ Kids

Creating Communities that Nourish Children

The New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign works in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to feed more hungry children through federal child nutrition programs — school breakfast, summer meals and afterschool snacks and dinners.

When communities capitalize on these programs, they reclaim taxpayer dollars sent to Washington D.C. and bring them back to New Jersey to feed children. This is the most efficient and cost-effective way to end childhood hunger in the Garden State.

Hunger Free New Jersey co-leads the campaign, working at both the state and local levels to convince state and community leaders to support and advance efforts to ensure more New Jersey communities work together to feed hungry children all year long.

If you would like more information or need help in forming a local coalition to advocate for expansion of child nutrition programs, please contact Lisa Pitz, outreach director, Hunger Free New Jersey at

School Breakfast
On May 31, 2018 Governor Phil Murphy signed in to law a school breakfast bill that will give tens of thousands more NJ kids a healthy start to their school day. The new law requires that schools with 70 percent or more of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals provide breakfast during the school day. An estimated 500 schools educating nearly 308,000 students will be required to serve breakfast “after the bell,” according to ACNJ.

Read news release.
Read our primer on this new law.

Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 73 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign.

This means that about 100,000 more children are receiving school breakfast, pushing the state from nearly last in the nation to 19th in 2017. As a result, New Jersey school districts have more than doubled the federal dollars they receive to provide breakfast, from $47.5 million in FY 2011 to an estimated $105 million in FY 2018, according to state budget figures.

Read NJAHC’s New Jersey’s School Breakfast Story.

Summer Meals

A new law will go into effect in 2020 that requires school districts where at least half of students live in low-income households to participate in the federal Summer Meal Food Service Program.

This will help to expand access to summertime nutrition for tens of thousands of children who rely on school meals during the academic year. The New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition will work with districts to help them implement successful programs that reduce childhood hunger.

The Need

Tens of thousands of children in low-income families are missing out on critical nutrition – and our communities are failing to claim millions of federal dollars that could be coming back to New Jersey to feed hungry children.

National standards recommend that 70 percent of low-income children who receive free or low-cost school lunch also receive breakfast, while 40 percent should receive summer meals and 10 percent should have afterschool meals.

In 2017, 57 percent of New Jersey’s low-income students who ate school lunch also had school breakfast, while about 24 percent received summer meals. We expect to have data soon for participation in the afterschool meals program.

Expanding Access to Federal Child Nutrition Programs

School Breakfast

Student participation in the federal School Breakfast Program has increased 81 percent since 2010 – the year before the launch of the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign. This means about 110,000 more children are receiving school breakfast each day. A new state law promises to boost breakfast even more.

Learn More.

Summer Meals

Tens of thousands of New Jersey children rely on school meals during the academic year. In the summer, children lack access to these meals and families struggle with tight budgets to put food on the table.

Federal summer meals programs provide a solution to summertime hunger for kids. Communities across New Jersey are increasingly offering free meals to children in the summer at schools, parks, libraries and other places where children congregate.

Learn More.

Afterschool Meals

The At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, a relatively new addition to the array of federal child nutrition programs, is beginning to expand across New Jersey.

Recognizing that children need nutrition when the school day ends, many afterschool programs have long served a snack — often at their own expense. This program offers generous reimbursements for organizations to serve snacks and dinners to children who may otherwise go home to an empty table.

Learn More.

School Breakfast Increase

Hungry NJ Kids

Kids Receiving Summer Meals

Kids Receiving SNAP