The New Jersey General Assembly has approved a package of 14 measures that represents a comprehensive approach to addressing food insecurity and tackling the issue of hunger in New Jersey. NAIOP New Jersey has actively supported the anti-hunger legislation, introduced by Speaker Craig Coughlin in mid-November, in line with its longstanding advocacy on behalf of the nearly one million residents of the state who suffer from hunger.
Michael McGuinness, CEO of the New Jersey chapter of the commercial real estate development association, said, “We strongly support Speaker Coughlin’s timely and important Anti-Hunger bill package, which tackles hunger from many angles including improving awareness, addressing food deserts and reducing food waste, three particularly critical issues.” The bill package also seeks to promote food donations by farmers and retailers, provide grants to reduce hunger on college campuses and create new resources to connect residents with emergency food services, among other initiatives.
The Assembly Human Services Committee heard the 14 bills on November 29 and released the package in its entirety to the full Assembly. The legislation had strong bipartisan support and was passed, 53-24, on December 17. To become law, the package must be approved by the Senate and then signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
NAIOP NJ represents 850 developers, owners, investors and related professionals in commercial, office and mixed-use real estate. McGuinness noted that, from the real estate industry’s perspective, consideration also needs to be given to advancing public policies that “make it easier for vacant office, industrial and retail space to be repurposed for vertical agriculture. Vertical farms grow food efficiently and sustainably by saving energy, water and fossil fuels, reducing toxins and restoring ecosystems, while providing new opportunities for employment and restoring vacant buildings to productive use.”
For the past nine years, NAIOP NJ’s anti-hunger initiatives have included dedicating its annual Community Action Project to partnering with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ). The state’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization, CFBNJ partners with over 1,000 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across the state to ensure that nutritious food is available to families in need year-round. To celebrate its 10th year supporting CFBNJ, NAIOP NJ has launched a 1 Million Meals for NJ fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $333,333 to provide 1 million meals for those in need across the Garden State.