(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Jamel Holley and Raj Mukherji sponsored to establish online applications for school lunch and breakfast programs was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.

“Many of New Jersey’s children and families rely on school lunch and breakfast programs to meet nutritional needs during the school year,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The greater the participation in these meal programs, the closer we are to ensuring that no child will go hungry in New Jersey.”

The bill (A-3501) directs the Department of Education to establish online applications for the National School Lunch Program and school breakfast programs. A school district that implements online school meal applications also would be required to continue making paper applications available. The sponsor hopes that modernizing the application process ultimately will allow more eligible students to enroll.

“Putting free and reduced school lunch and breakfast applications online can eliminate the manual entry of student information from thousands of paper applications and save participating school districts time and money,” said Holley (D-Union). “This will make it easier and faster to ensure that all students in New Jersey have something to eat during the school day.”

“Most people today handle their business online. There’s no reason why parents shouldn’t be able to apply online for programs that keep their kids from going hungry,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “The more we expand the ability of parents to apply for free or low-cost nutritional school meals, the more children we can serve with these critical programs.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee chaired by Lampitt.