SOUTH AMBOY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Two new laws will expand access to free school meals for New Jersey students.
Under the bills signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, all schools in the state will now be required to offer a school lunch program and a school breakfast program.
"Consistent access to healthy meals is a fundamental human right, a fact that became all too clear for New Jersey families as they struggled to make ends meet amid a global pandemic," Murphy said. "We've fought hard alongside our students' parents to provide our children with the tools they need to grow and excel, and today we demonstrate our intent to double those efforts in the battle against food insecurity."
The laws also expand access to free school meals to include students from middle-income families, in addition to low-income families, and require the state "to educate parents and guardians of students about existing and expanding school meals program options."
The laws dictate the state will provide funding to each school district to cover the cost of the change.
"The act is critical to meeting the needs of many working families and puts us on a direct path to feeding breakfast and lunch to every child who needs it," Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said.
The state program picks up where the federal free lunch program implemented during the pandemic will drop off, when it ends at the end of the month.