Measure Would Establish an Incentive Fund for the School Breakfast Program
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly to create an incentive fund to support the Breakfast after the Bell program received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.
The sponsors said the purpose of the fund is to provide an incentive for the school districts to move to a school breakfast model that will reach more students. They also note in the bill that low- to middle-income school districts face more fiscal challenges in covering the cost of effective breakfast programs.
The bill is part of efforts by Assembly Democrats to lift people out of poverty and rebuild New Jersey's middle-class.
"Breakfast after the Bell is one of the most important programs offered to students in our school districts," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "A fund will encourage schools to adopt a model that will feed more students in the school year and continue to prepare children for their day of learning."
"An incentive fund will support school breakfast models that will benefit children now and in the future," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "The goal is for more of New Jersey's children to be able to participate in Breakfast after the Bell."
The bill (A-1657) will require the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education, to develop and administer an incentive fund that will provide a 10-cent per breakfast supplement to the existing federal reimbursement to school districts that participate in the federal school breakfast program.
"Many children currently benefit from the Breakfast after the Bell program," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "There are still more families we can serve. This bill, most importantly, will help families who are unable, whether it's because of time or resources, to provide a nutritious breakfast for their children."
"Breakfast after the Bell has become an essential program in our schools," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This program underscores the importance of nutrition in a child's education. An incentive fund, hopefully, will help schools cover costs and allow more students reap the benefits of the program."
"Breakfast after the Bell is an invaluable school initiative," said Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen). "Many working parents rely on breakfast programs during the school year. This bill aims to relieve some of the cost and help schools reach as many families as possible with the program."
"Education must coincide with proper nutrition," said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). "Children must be prepared to learn."
The measure provides that a public school district with schools that participate in the federal school breakfast program that serve breakfast after the bell with 20 to 100 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced price breakfast would be eligible for this additional reimbursement.
The bill was approved 24-9 by the Senate today, and 50-24-2 by the Assembly in March.