Press Releases

Trying to Make N.J. School Menus More ‘Culturally Sensitive'

NJ Newsroom
February 2, 2015
Jennifer Sciortino
Link to original

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo G. Garcia, Raj Mukherji, Gabriela Mosquera, Joseph Lagana and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to require public school districts to consider making their breakfast and lunch menus more culturally sensitive was advanced by the Senate Education Committee recently.

The bill (A-3360) would require superintendents in public school districts containing a middle or high school to establish a district-wide food services advisory committee to recommend breakfast and lunch menu options that reflect the student body’s cultural, traditional and overall dietary preferences if the student population suggests such a need exists.

“Consistency in teaching New Jersey’s children about embracing cultural diversity requires us to ensure that they know everyone is welcome in the classroom as well as in the cafeteria,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “School menus that respect students’ dietary preferences will send a message of inclusion that is central to our state’s value system.”

“One of the greatest aspects of living in New Jersey is our multiculturalism,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “Honoring that diversity involves making sure no student feels like his or her cultural background is a limiting or ostracizing factor in any regard, and lunchroom options are no exception.”

Assembly Democratic Bill to Accommodate Cultural Preferences in School Menus Advances in Senate

January 30, 2015

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo G. Garcia, Raj Mukherji, Gabriela Mosquera, Joseph Lagana and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to require public school districts to consider making their breakfast and lunch menus more culturally sensitive was advanced by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-3360) would require superintendents in public school districts containing a middle or high school to establish a district-wide food services advisory committee to recommend breakfast and lunch menu options that reflect the student body's cultural, traditional and overall dietary preferences if the student population suggests such a need exists.

"Consistency in teaching New Jersey's children about embracing cultural diversity requires us to ensure that they know everyone is welcome in the classroom as well as in the cafeteria," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "School menus that respect students' dietary preferences will send a message of inclusion that is central to our state's value system."

"One of the greatest aspects of living in New Jersey is our multiculturalism," said Garcia (D-Hudson). "Honoring that diversity involves making sure no student feels like his or her cultural background is a limiting or ostracizing factor in any regard, and lunchroom options are no exception."

Bill Package to Protect Domestic Violence Victims Clears Full Assembly

January 29, 2015

A three-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Craig Coughlin, Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson and L. Grace Spencer to bolster protections for domestic violence victims in New Jersey gained approval by the full Assembly on Thursday.

The first bill (A-3655), sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Lagana and Mosquera, is designed to enhance the protections offered under the "New Jersey Safe Housing Act" by prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement due to a tenant's or prospective tenant's status as a domestic violence victim.

Under the act, a tenant may terminate a lease prior to its expiration if they provide appropriate documentation and written notice that they or their child face an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if they remain on the premises.

The bill would amend the act to prohibit a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant's, applicant's or household member's status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or based on the tenant or applicant having terminated a rental agreement pursuant to the Act.

Bill Creating Commission to Study, Recommend Ways to Make NJ Colleges More Affordable Gains Final Legislative Approval

January 29, 2015

The Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Dan Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Paul Moriarty, Benjie Wimberly and Carmelo G. Garcia to create a task force charged with studying different ways to help make college more affordable for New Jersey students, giving it final legislative approval.

Having received amendments to concur with a previous conditional veto, the bill (A-2236) now returns to the governor's desk.

"Rising tuition costs are placing unbearable financial burdens on New Jersey college students and families," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The findings of the commission have the potential to open doors for students who otherwise could not afford a college education. Making higher education more affordable not only helps these students, but the state, which would benefit from a well-educated workforce."

"It is a terrible tragedy when our best and brightest cannot further their education due to the rising cost of college tuition," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The commission will examine all avenues to make higher education in New Jersey more affordable and accessible to our students."

Mazzeo, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Benson Bill to Allow Service Animals to Board School Buses Advances

January 28, 2015

Assembly approved legislation Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Daniel Benson sponsored to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey continued advancing on Monday.

"This legislation ensures that New Jersey aligns with what federal law prescribes," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "What's more important, however, is our commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities can have the highest quality of life possible and access the same opportunities as their peers."

The measure was approved by the Assembly in November and advanced Monday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
The bill (A-3690) would expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Current law only permits students with disabilities to enter classrooms and school grounds with service animals. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in services provided by state and local government entities.

"For certain students with disabilities, service animals are required for optimal learning and development," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "If a student needs a service animal in school and is allowed to have that, it is common sense to allow the student to bring the service animal onto the school bus as well."