An Assembly panel on Thursday approved a two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help ensure that more students receive breakfast every day to boost their chances of success in school.
The first bill (A-3889), sponsored by Lampitt, would establish a school breakfast kiosk pilot program to ensure students have greater accessibility to breakfast items in school.
"This program will help more children start the school day with a nutritious breakfast in order to learn, grow, and develop to their full potential," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Research shows that school breakfast increases attendance and decreases tardiness, improves academic performance and attentiveness and reduces emotional and behavioral problems among students from all backgrounds."
A school district seeking to participate in the two-year pilot program shall submit to the Department of Agriculture a plan outlining how the school will make food available on a cart, cubicle, or kiosk on the way into the school or to a classroom, dining room, or other designated area. The plan shall also outline food choices, including how they will be consistent with federal guidelines, pricing, and packaging requirements, as well as location, support, and disposal needs.
The Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education, shall review each school breakfast kiosk pilot plan submitted and make recommendations, if necessary, on how the pilot plan can operate within the limits of the federal and state reimbursement rates for the federal school breakfast program.
Within 180 days after completion of the pilot program, the Department of Agriculture shall prepare and issue a report to the governor and the legislature on the impact of the pilot program on students, including the percentage of low income students receiving breakfast services under the program.
The second bill (A-4030), sponsored by Schaer and Vainieri Huttle, would 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.
"Ultimately, the goal is to provide an incentive for school districts to move to a school breakfast model that will reach more hungry students," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Since low to middle income school districts face more fiscal challenges in covering the cost of an effective breakfast program, this bill is designed to help mitigate those costs."
"There is merit behind the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Without the specter of hunger haunting them, students can concentrate better on the tasks at hand. Hopefully this incentive will help reduce the cost of ensuring that students receive the nutrition they need to succeed in school."
Under the bill, 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.
Both measures were approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.