TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy on Friday signed into law a legislative package that seeks to put an end to hunger in the state.
“In the richest nation in the world, it is a moral failure that so many of our fellow New Jerseyans don’t have enough food to eat,” Murphy said.
“This comprehensive approach will allow us to leverage New Jersey’s strengths to better provide for our residents, so families can provide for themselves and their children," the governor said.
"The legislation signed today addresses New Jersey’s hunger crisis by coordinating efforts between government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and the Office of the Chief Innovation Officer.
The legislation confronts food deserts in New Jersey communities and hunger among students at the state’s colleges and universities, spreads information about resources through state websites, and discourages food waste, among other efforts.
Several pieces of the legislation were sponsored by Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, who represents the 29th District, which includes sections of Newark and Belleville.
“People living in urban areas around the state often do not have access to affordable fresh produce, making it harder for them to make healthy choices, said Ruiz, who co-sponsored a bill directing the Department of Agriculture to establish food desert produce pilot program.
"This not only impacts the food on their table each night but also the long term health of our most vulnerable communities. Piloting a program with schools or organizations to have weekly farmers markets will allow us to determine a viable long-term solution for food deserts,” Ruiz said.
The "Hunger-Free Campus Act" that requires Secretary of Higher Education to establish a $1 million grant program to address food insecurity among students enrolled in public institutions of higher education.
Another bill designates November of each year as "Food Pantry Donation Month" in New Jersey.
Other pieces of legislation that were part of the legislative package include:
- A4708, which establishes Farm Liaison in Department of Agriculture,
- A4703, which requires the state Chief Technology Officer to establish "Anti-Hunger Link" for all State websites, providing information on emergency food services,
- A4705, which establishes New Jersey Food Waste Task Force to make recommendations concerning food waste in New Jersey,
- A4707, which directs Department of Agriculture to establish public awareness campaign for food waste,
- AJR172, which designates Thursday of third week of September of each year as "Food Waste Prevention Day" in New Jersey,
- AJR174, which rges large food retailers in State to reduce food waste,
- and AJR175, which urges the state's Chief Innovation Officer to prioritize enhancement of NJOneApp to include all State anti-hunger programs.