ATLANTIC CITY,NJ–A new bill passed in the New Jersey state assembly last December requires school districts to form food services advisory committees. The move is intended to not only provide healthy nutrition but also to take the students’ dietary preferences.
“Making vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal and other cultural dietary options available can increase the likelihood that students will eat the food on the menu and help ensure that New Jersey’s School Nutrition Programs reach their intended goal,” said Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden), one of bill’s sponsors, in an interview to the New Jersey Advance.
The bill is headed to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie for approval. Some schools in the state already offer halal and other meals. The new bill makes the process more efficient. It would create a form for all middle and high school students to fill out, indicating any unmet school lunch dietary preferences and describing any food concerns the student wishes to see addressed.
Unless the forms reveal that only a few students have complaints, districts would then be required to establish district-wide food services advisory committees consisting of the superintendent, a principal or principal’s designee, a food services employee or contractor, at least four students and at least one parent. That committee would then recommend breakfast and lunch choices reflecting the student body’s cultural, traditional and overall dietary preferences, though the cost effectiveness of providing any new meals would also be taken into account.