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WHEREAS, at any one time, there are more than 475,000 children in New Jersey who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and are therefore presumed to be otherwise unable to obtain the food necessary for healthy nutrition and this number continues to grow; and

WHEREAS, research shows that in children, hunger not only attacks physical well-being, but also contributes to a loss of concentration, academic performance and intellectual growth; and

WHEREAS, in May 2003, the Governor announced a series of initiatives to combat childhood obesity and improve children’s academic performance by promoting better nutrition and physical activity in schools; and this "Healthy Choices, Healthy Kids" campaign is being spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the Departments of Education and Health and Senior Services; and

WHEREAS, the Department has adopted the child nutrition program rule that requires all schools to develop a school nutrition policy and promote more nutritious alternatives; and training will be provided focusing on marketing nutritious foods to children and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into the school meal program; and

WHEREAS, the Department is also working with Rutgers University’s Farm to School Initiative to increase the use of locally grown farm products in schools; and

WHEREAS, the National Research Council offers nine guidelines for reducing chronic disease in the United States; and near the top of the list, just below reducing fat and cholesterol, is eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day; and

WHEREAS, research conducted by the University of Southern California School of Medicine also found that eating more vegetables and fruits reduces many types of cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and infectious illnesses; and

WHEREAS, since 1994, the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Program, has created an excellent opportunity to provide Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables to a segment of the nutritionally at risk population who wouldn't normally purchase farm fresh produce; and in 2005, the WIC Farmers Market Program served more than 64,250 New Jersey children, infants and breastfeeding women; and

WHEREAS, making qualified elderly citizens eligible for the Senior Farmers Market Program during the 2003 growing season further expanded the nutritional benefits of farm fresh produce to over 23,000 economically disadvantaged senior citizens who participated in the pilot program, thereby providing a valuable and reliable way for New Jersey farmers’ products to be obtained by senior citizens in the State; and a sound, balanced, nutritional diet is important to the well being of society, both in terms of the future productivity of our children and the health and well being of the population in general; and

WHEREAS, the Senior Farmers Market Program is not only beneficial to elderly citizens, it also offers an additional market for New Jersey farmers who rely on this program as a source of revenue; and

WHEREAS, we applaud the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Farmers Against Hunger Program, which through its gleaning and distribution programs reaches our needy, distributing 1.5 million pounds of food to over 6,000 families in 2004, of which over 500,000 pounds came from our New Jersey farmers through the gleaning and donation programs; and

WHEREAS, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), is designed to distribute free federally donated food to eligible, needy persons throughout the country; and 

WHEREAS, since 1982, the NJDA has administered TEFAP in New Jersey, distributing several hundred million pounds of federally funded food throughout the State’s twenty-one counties; and this program currently provides over 85 different food items to over 800,000 eligible needy citizens; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey receives approximately 11 million pounds of TEFAP commodities annually from the USDA; however, the amount of the TEFAP grant award has remained relatively constant, through varying amounts of food actually received; and

WHEREAS, the grant award is based on a funding formula, not tied to the amount of food received, and no additional federal funding is provided for acceptance of bonus foods; and because of this, the rate of reimbursement provided to the Emergency Feeding Operations (EFO) ($.08 cents/lb.) has not increased in over 10 years, and it is becoming more and more difficult for the EFOs to continue to participate and absorb the unreimbursed expenses, such as delivery and transportation costs, incurred in one of the most densely populated states in the nation; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s policy is to accept all TEFAP foods – bonus foods -- made available by the USDA, including foods which are not accepted by other states, and no additional funding is provided, imposing a further financial burden on the state and the EFOs; and

WHEREAS, increased costs associated with delivery and transportation in a densely populated state make it desirable to acquire food for EFOs from local sources first when available, reducing the number of “food miles” those commodities must travel to reach the end recipients, securing food from regional sources second, and securing food from national and international sources only as a last resort; and     

WHEREAS, the FY 2007 budget included the Governor’s Hunger Initiative, which provided the NJDA with $3 million for Emergency Feeding Organizations to provide nutrient dense food items, including locally grown and processed fresh fruits and vegetables and $1 million for infrastructure support to assist local agencies to better store, handle, preserve and distribute these foods, collectively known as the State Food Purchase Program.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 14, 2007, continue to support the efforts of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to ensure that healthy food choices and fresh fruits and vegetables are available to all children and adults throughout New Jersey.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Department remain a leader in the promotion of healthy foods and sound dietary choices to improve the well being of New Jersey's citizens by promoting Healthy Choices, Healthy Kids.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Department encourages all state institutions and schools to purchase locally grown produce when available throughout the year and assist with the expansion of the Farm to School Initiative, which encompasses the following areas:
  • The Department will work with the Farm to School Project currently administered by the New Jersey Urban Ecology Program to work through the challenges of increasing the use of locally grown products by school food service;
  • The Department will continue to develop and support initiatives to overcome the issue of seasonality and distribution of Jersey Fresh products.  Value added products shall be developed/expanded to increase extended availability of these products;
  • The Department will continue to work with the Department of Defense’s Fresh Produce Program (“DOD Fresh”) to expand the inclusion of Jersey Fresh products offered monthly through the Food Distribution Program; and
  • The Department will make contact with New Jersey-based fruit and vegetable processing companies to produce pre-packaged, value-added, single-serving fruit and vegetable products for use in school food service menus.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly support the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and encourage the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to support and sponsor the movement in Washington, D.C., to increase federal funding in the USDA's budget for both the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in 2007 and 2008.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage the New Jersey Congressional delegation to seek more aggressive development of the Farmers Market Nutrition Programs and to vigorously oppose any efforts to direct any portion of these funds away from the original intent of the Farmers Market Nutrition Programs and into supermarket-based programs.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the New Jersey Congressional delegation, the Governor and the State Legislature, as well as counties and municipalities, to work toward expanding the access to fresh farm products by improving the transportation for senior citizens to farmers' markets and/or delivery of farmers' market products to senior housing centers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all of the food banks in New Jersey, Tri-County Community Action Agency, and Farmers Against Hunger continue to collaborate in their efforts to collect excess produce from farms and distribute this produce to needy families through the New Jersey Produce Recovery Network.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support full Title 32 funding from USDA to ensure the provision of bonus food commodities through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to more than 300,000 families via emergency food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters throughout New Jersey, to be used in the preparation of more than 400,000 meals per month. Current EFOs identify administrative costs per pound to be in excess of 22 cents per pound.  Therefore, we encourage the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to support and sponsor the movement in Washington, D.C., to increase federal funding in the USDA's budget for TEFAP reimbursement to cover the existing administrative costs.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that funding for the State Food Purchase Program be included in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget at a level at least equal to the current funding amount.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, recognizing that children learn eating habits at home as well as at school, we support and encourage the dedication of additional funding for the Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension Living Well Program to provide healthy lifestyle education to all citizens of New Jersey regardless of income level.