From Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. <[email protected]>
Subject Chairman’s Update: Expanding School Lunch, Internet for All, and More!
Date January 19, 2024 9:33 PM
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͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌The New Jersey Democratic Party is made up of political leaders that drive progressive change across the Garden State. If you’d like to unsubscribe, click here. [[link removed]]

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It is still open enrollment season for healthcare coverage here in our state and the remarkable success of GetCoveredNJ [[link removed]] cannot be overstated. In the first 9 weeks alone, an astounding 366,986 New Jersey residents seized the opportunity to secure a health plan, with 9 in 10 individuals qualifying for financial assistance – a testament to the expanded coverage options championed by Governor Murphy and President Biden. As the enrollment deadline of January 31st approaches, I urge fellow New Jerseyans to capitalize on this unprecedented level of financial support. Many have been eligible for plans at $10 a month or even less. Affordable and accessible healthcare is not just a privilege; it's a fundamental right that our leaders are steadfastly working to uphold.

Despite repeated efforts by Republicans to do away with it, the Affordable Care Act has continued to provide historic levels of coverage to Americans who would otherwise have to forgo coverage or face financial turmoil to obtain it. The resilience of the ACA has been particularly crucial during these uncertain times, ensuring that individuals and families have access to quality healthcare without the burden of exorbitant costs. The success of GetCoveredNJ [[link removed]] in achieving record-high enrollments is a testament to the enduring impact of the ACA. In the face of political challenges, it stands as a beacon of progress, emphasizing that the right to health coverage is not a partisan issue but a commitment to the well-being of all citizens. As we navigate through open enrollment, let's not only celebrate the achievements but also recognize the importance of protecting and expanding initiatives like the ACA that safeguard the health and financial stability of countless Americans.

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Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation this week expanding eligibility criteria under the Working Class Families Anti-Hunger Act to allow more young students to receive free school meals. Under the legislation, public and non-public schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or federal School Breakfast Program will provide a free school lunch and/or breakfast to students whose families have an annual household income of up to 224 percent of the federal poverty level, which will make over 60,000 families newly eligible.

“Access to nutritious food is a basic necessity for our kids,” said Governor Murphy [[link removed]] . “We have made great strides in our fight against food insecurity, working together with those on the front lines to ensure our most vulnerable community members have access to a warm meal and empowering our schools to meet the needs of their students. Expanding student eligibility under the Working Class Families Anti-Hunger Act will provide more of New Jersey’s young learners with a free school lunch and breakfast so that they can go to class ready to learn, rather than wondering where their next meal will come from.”

I applaud initiatives such as this that prioritize the well-being of those facing food insecurity, recognizing that no child should endure days spent hungry. Compassionate governing stands as the cornerstone of a robust democracy, and initiatives that prioritize the well-being of the most vulnerable strengthen the fabric of our state and country. By fostering an environment that ensures basic needs are met, we cultivate a society that values compassion, justice, and inclusivity ultimately creating the foundation of a stronger and more cohesive nation.

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January is Muslim Heritage Month, and NJDSC is celebrating with a weekly spotlight on members of our Muslim Caucus that are a shining example of what it looks like to be a community leader and advocate for the rights and protections of our New Jersey Muslim community at large.

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This week, we are proud to be highlighting Freshta Taeb, an exemplary leader in our Muslim Caucus.

Freshta Taeb currently serves as the head of the Refugee Interventionists Program at Cornerstone Family and Marriage Intervention and holds the position of Managing Director at FT Translation Services. With a wealth of translation experience cultivated through collaborations with esteemed media outlets such as Al Jazeera America and The New York Times, Freshta has become a prominent figure in bridging communication gaps. In 2022, she received the Muslims 4 Peace Humanitarian Award for her commendable efforts in supporting Central and South Asian, as well as Middle Eastern, refugee communities. Additionally, she was honored with The Council on American-Islamic Relations, New Jersey (“CAIR-NJ”) Service Award that same year. Her dedication to humanitarian work and advocacy exemplifies the commitment to championing the rights and protections of the New Jersey Muslim community.

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High-speed internet is no longer a luxury – it is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school, access health care, and to stay connected with family and friends. Yet, more than 8.5 million households and small businesses are in areas where there is no high-speed internet infrastructure, and millions more struggle with limited or unreliable internet options. Others are inhibited by high costs or lack of technological skills. In particular, these inequities impact communities of color, rural communities and older Americans where the lack of affordable, reliable high-speed internet contributes to significant economic, health and other disparities.

The Affordable Connectivity Program, authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is the largest internet affordability program in our nation’s history. The effort to bring high-speed, affordable internet to every American household is part of the Biden Administration’s Investing in America agenda, and the resources secured through the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are helping make critical progress toward that goal.

The Affordable Connectivity Program provides eligible households up to $30/month (or up to $75/month on qualifying Tribal lands) off internet bills, as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer or tablet. To further lower costs, President Biden and Vice President Harris also announced commitments from internet service providers across the country to offer high-speed plans that are fully covered by the Affordable Connectivity Program—meaning millions of working families can now get high-speed internet without paying a dime.

For more information about how the Biden-Harris Administration is working to connect everyone in America, you can visit [[link removed]] . To sign-up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can visit [[link removed]] .

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I would like us to look back in remembrance and admiration to former Cumberland County Chair, and current State Committee member, Nancy Sungenis , who passed away on January 10 after a long illness, and Clifton Councilwoman and former State Committee member, Lauren Murphy , who passed away this past weekend after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Nancy Sungenis has the distinction of being elected the first female mayor of Hopewell Township. She also served as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Cumberland County Utilities Authority and Commissioner of Registration for the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Lauren Murphy had served as administrator for the Passaic County Board of Social Services for over 34 years. She was also Executive Director of the Passaic County One Stop Career Center in Paterson for over 10 years and a Clifton councilwoman since 2014. Both women were fierce and loyal Democrats whose passion and commitment to service will be dearly missed.

— Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr.

P.S. The delegate application for the 2024 Democratic National Convention is now open through March 6th! New Jersey has 146 delegates and 20 districts under the DSP, and we’re committed to our goals of having a diverse and equitable delegation. Interested in being a pledged delegate? Apply now at [[link removed]] .

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Paid for by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, 142 W State St, Trenton, NJ 08608.
New Jersey Democratic State Committee
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