Guidance on New School Meal Distribution Act

March 21, 2020
Elizabeth White, Esq.

To Our School Board Community:

On March 16, 2020, the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey signed an Act requiring school districts to provide school meals or meal vouchers to students eligible for free and reduced price school meals during school closures due to COVID-19. Below we have highlighted the important the important things you should know:

  • In the event a board of education is directed to close due to COVID-19, the district shall implement a program during the closure to provide school meals to all students enrolled in the district who are eligible for the free and reduced price school lunch and breakfast programs.
  • The district shall identify one or more school meal distribution sites that are walkable and easily accessible to students in the district. Distribution sites may include but are not limited to:
         -Faith-based locations
         -Community centers
         -Locations in the district where summer meals are available
  • If a district includes high density housing, the district must make every effort to identify a distribution site in that housing area.
  • In cases where a distribution site is not within walking distance for some students, the district shall identify these students and distribute the school meals to the student’s residence or bus stop along an established bus route provided the student, parent, or guardian is present at the bus stop for distribution.
         -Food distributed in this manner may include up to a total of three school days’ worth of food per delivery.

    • Districts may use school buses owned and operated by the district to distribute school meals. If a district does not own or operate its own buses, the district may contract for the distribution of school meals- these contracts shall not be subject to public bidding requirements.
           -*Note: This may be an opportunity to continue to pay for contracted transportation services.
  • If a district is unable to provide school meals, the district shall establish a food voucher system for eligible students. The voucher system shall provide funds to enable students to access nutritious food at food retail stores.
  • The State will bear any costs not reimbursed by the federal government which are incurred by the school districts in effectuating the provisions of this Act.

This message about recent developments is not intended to substitute for our legal advice to our clients based on their specific needs or requests.  In addition, our guidance is subject to and can be superseded by new laws, rules, regulations, or orders. Moreover, some directives from the Federal and State authorities can appear, and can be, contradictory or in conflict so please contact us for assistance.

If you have any questions regarding the requirements of this Act, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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