N.J. may expand school meal program
New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would make sure more children start the school day with breakfast.
New Jersey law requires breakfast to be served in schools where at least 20 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federally funded National School Lunch Program.
An Assembly committee has advanced a bill to expand the program by requiring breakfasts if only 5 percent of students qualify for subsidized meals.
That could become a financial burden for schools., said Sharon Seyler of the New Jersey School Boards Association during a hearing Monday before the Assembly's Women and Children Committee.
"There may be a way that a district could enter into a partnership with a corporate sponsor to actually help fund the breakfast program because, if you don't have enough of the percentage, you're not going to get enough federal reimbursement to maintain that program," Seyler said.
The Breakfast After the Bell program does not take away from instructional time, according to state Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher.
"Instead it adds to it. They're able to talk about how food is grown," Fisher said. "They're able to take about good nutritional habits, learning about just what choices can be made in life in terms of their nutritional inputs."