Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Combat Food Insecurity Among New Jersey Students
Governor Phil Murphy signed two bills that will help combat food insecurity among students across the state. The first bill, A2368/S1677, which was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, requires New Jersey schools to provide free breakfasts and lunches to students from working-class and middle-income families. The second bill, A2365/S1928, requires school food authorities to engage in public education campaigns and develop promotional materials to educate parents about existing and expanding school meals program options. Together, the laws will help ensure equitable access to resources that simultaneously benefit children’s nutrition and support work families’ financial stability.
“Consistent access to healthy meals is a fundamental human right, a fact that became all too clear for New Jersey families as they struggled to make ends meet amid a global pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “We’ve fought hard alongside our students’ parents to provide our children with the tools they need to grow and excel, and today we demonstrate our intent to double those efforts in the battle against food insecurity. Crucially, by launching extensive public awareness campaigns, we will work to ensure that free, nutritious meals are not only available, but easily accessible, for every New Jersey student.
Governor Murphy and DOE Announce Over $26 Million to Expand High-Quality Preschool in 27 School Districts
Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) announced that 27 school districts will receive Preschool Expansion Aid (PEA) to establish or expand access to high-quality preschool programs in the 2022-2023 school year. The over $26 million, which was allocated in the FY2023 Budget, ensures that nearly 2,150 additional three- and four-year-old children will have access to a preschool classroom by increasing New Jersey’s preschool seats to nearly 70,000. This announcement builds on Governor Murphy’s long-term commitment to early education and the eventual goal of providing universal preschool to every three- and four-year-old in New Jersey.
“We know that providing children with access to preschool programs creates short and long term educational and economic benefits for families,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “When we invest in preschool education, we also invest in our youth and in the future success of the State of New Jersey for decades to come. Today’s announcement is another step toward universal preschool and a brighter future for New Jersey’s youngest learners.”
“I am excited to work with the 27 school districts receiving this funding to create and expand their community’s preschool programs,” said Dr. Angelica Allen McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Governor Murphy’s continued budget allowance for high-quality preschool allows many young children an opportunity to attend preschool and reap the benefits of starting school earlier.”
Governor Murphy Signs Bipartisan Bill Establishing Black Heritage Trail in New Jersey
In a room at the historic City of Newark’s Public Library, surrounded by state and local officials, as well as activists, Governor Phil Murphy signed bipartisan bill A2677. The bill requires the New Jersey Historical Commission to establish a Black Heritage Trail to promote awareness and appreciation of Black history, heritage, and culture in the State. The Black Heritage Trail will highlight Black heritage sites through historical markers and a trail-like path that connect the stories of Black life and resiliency in the State.
“I am honored to sign this bill, establishing a Black Heritage Trail in New Jersey. However, our work does not stop here,” said Governor Murphy. “Celebrating and commemorating Black history is not something that we should relegate to only the month of February or to Juneteenth. Black history is New Jersey history. It must be honored every day of the year.”
In January 2021, the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism within the Department of State launched the New Jersey Black Heritage Trail, which invites visitors and residents to “discover the remarkable achievements and legacies of New Jersey’s African American scholars, famous figures and everyday citizens who shaped the State’s history for nearly four centuries.” The New Jersey Black Heritage Trail will highlight landmarks, heritage sites, museums and modern-day attractions, which will be featured on downloadable three-day trip itineraries and map views. Under the bill, which appropriates $ 1million to the Department of State to establish the historical markers, the Historical Commission must give special consideration to sites that are in close geographic proximity, thematically linked by surrounding arts and other tourism destinations, or recommended by the New Jersey Black Cultural and Heritage Initiative Foundation.
New Jersey Students Enter First School Year With K-12 Climate Change Education
In June of 2020 First Lady Tammy Murphy announced that the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted her initiative to make New Jersey the first state in the nation to incorporate climate change education across its K-12 academic standards. As thousands of New Jersey students enter a new school year, the incorporation of climate change education for K-12 schools begins. This first of its kind curriculum will prepare and propel New Jersey students to the top of the ranks for the thousands of green economy jobs that will be made available in the future.
“New Jersey has the number one public education system in the nation, and our teachers and school administrators are well equipped to prepare our future climate change leaders to take on the climate crisis,” said Governor Murphy. “Our children are our future, and the lessons New Jersey students will learn with this new curriculum will bring us one step closer to building our green economy and reaching and sustaining 100 percent clean energy in New Jersey by 2050.”
“Today marks the first day of the highly anticipated climate change education curriculum in our K-12 school systems, and I cannot be more thrilled about the future for our students and for our state,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “New Jersey will be on the forefront of the climate movement, and these new standards will give our children the tools necessary to combat the effects of climate change. We are building the world’s next generation of climate literate leaders, including policymakers, historians, teachers, and more, who will discover new ways to address the climate crisis.”
“New Jersey will continue to be a national leader in preparing students to address issues related to climate change in the next decade,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Our standards provide students with the tools to learn how climate change impacts our society, but how to also work collaboratively with peers and communities to address the issue of climate change.”
First Lady Tammy Murphy Highlights Significant Investments in Maternal and Infant Health Initiatives
First Lady Tammy Murphy hosted a roundtable discussion to highlight the investments made in maternal and infant health initiatives in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023) budget.The First Lady’s initiative, Nurture NJ, aims to reduce New Jersey’s maternal mortality by fifty percent over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes. Since its inception in 2019, Nurture NJ has made significant strides in addressing maternal and infant health care in the state of New Jersey. The FY2023 budget includes over $58 million to support Nurture NJ programs and policies.
“These necessary investments will continue to address and combat the shocking numbers our state holds in maternal and infant mortality rates and racial disparities in health care,” said Governor Murphy. “The health of our mothers and babies is of the utmost importance to each of the First Lady and me, as well as this Administration as a whole. Strengthening our maternal and infant health care systems will help us continue to build a stronger, fairer, and more equitable New Jersey for all families who call our great state their home.”
"I am so grateful for the funding allocated to Nurture NJ in this year’s budget, which will allow us to continue our work transforming our state into the safest and most equitable in the nation to deliver and raise a baby," said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Given New Jersey has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation exacerbated by unacceptable racial disparities for our mothers and our babies, we feel it is our moral imperative to continue this fight. I am thrilled to see Nurture NJ build upon the significant progress we have already made, better support mothers and babies during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives, and, through innovative policymaking, become the national gold standard for maternal and infant health.”