TRENTON — Democratic lawmakers have rolled out a new initiative designed to increase the feeding of needy students. It's called the Nourishing Young Minds Initiative Fund.

The fund, leveraging federal dollars, would be managed by the Department of Agriculture. It would help with the costs of implementing the federal school breakfast program and summer meals programs in high-poverty areas.

It would help to inform parents about the availability of federal child nutrition in their schools and towns. Nearly 340,000 New Jersey children face hunger each year.

Cecilia Zalkind, of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, says the state has made great strides in school breakfast and other nutritional programs, with 101,000 now being served daily.

"But on the other hand, there are still 300,000 children across the state who are eligible for breakfast, and they are not getting it."

Zalkind calls the incentive fund "exciting."

"It identifies those areas in which some money might be needed and districts who are struggling with how to get started."

"Every single dollar that we invest into that will help a child and fill that child's nutritional needs," said state Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, one of the sponsors of the proposal. "It will pay off a thousand-fold in terms of its impact on society."

Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro says "we have plenty of responsibilities here in the state, and when you think about this initiative, there is no more important initiative than helping our youth and making sure that they the nutrition to succeed."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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