Building Partnerships in Clifton to Improve Access to School Breakfast
School meal applications are critically important as they determine how many students qualify for free and reduced priced meals and can be a significant driver of participation in school breakfast and other child nutrition programs. Yet, school districts across the state struggle to get applications returned by parents. This can be due to a variety of factors. In many districts, like Clifton, applications can only be submitted online – making it difficult for some parents without computer skills or with language barriers to complete the process. Many families may be unaware that their children are eligible for free and reduce price meals.
In our work in Clifton, it became apparent that helping the district get school meal applications returned would be an important piece to improving access to school breakfast. So, Hunger Free New Jersey (formerly NJAHC) facilitated a series of school meal application drives in partnership with the Clifton Public Library and St. Peter’s Haven, Clifton’s largest food pantry. These trusted community-based agencies educated parents about the importance of school meal applications and provided hands-on assistance in filling out the online forms, as well as language translation. Backpacks and other school supplies were distributed to parents at three application events over the summer.
“One of the goals of the library is to help people become informed and understand that help may be available in the community. For example, many families struggle to fill out the school meal application. By working with Hunger Free New Jersey, we can help give them important information and understand the (nutrition) services available for their children”, states Gloria Abero, Clifton library’s Youth Services Supervisor (pictured far right, with her staff).
Hunger Free New Jersey will continue our partnership with the Clifton Public Library to improve access to school breakfast and summer food in Clifton.
About the Grantee
Hunger Free New Jersey, formerly known as the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition (NJAHC), educates the public and decision-makers about hunger — its causes, its solutions. Hunger Free New Jersey mobilizes diverse organizations and pushes for sweeping changes so every single New Jersey resident has healthy food to eat — every single day.