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WHEREAS, at any one time, there are more than 500,000 children in New Jersey who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and are therefore presumed to be unable to obtain the food necessary for healthy nutrition; and

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

WHEREAS, the Department adopted the child nutrition program rule that required all schools to develop and implement a school nutrition policy by September 2007 and to promote more nutritious alternatives; with training provided focusing on marketing nutritious foods to children and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into the school meal program; and

WHEREAS, the Department recognizes the importance of promoting better nutrition and physical activity to improve students’ academic performance and has provided “Wellness Rules in New Jersey Schools” resources along with annual regional workshops to assist schools in providing a healthy environment; and

WHEREAS, two studies published in April 2007 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine clearly show that Americans are still not meeting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to consume at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily continuing the serious and on-going public health concern about the risk of obesity and certain chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers; 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 2002, the WIC Farmers Market Program served more than 38,000 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

WHEREAS, 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’s farmers who rely on this program as a source of revenue; and

WHEREAS, 1.6 million people in the State of New Jersey are eligible to participate in the various feeding and nutrition programs administered by or through the Department; and 

WHEREAS, we applaud the work of gleaning and distribution organizations throughout the state to reach our needy; 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; because of this, the rate of reimbursement provided to the Emergency Feeding Operations (EFOs) is 10 cents per pound 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 when located within one of the most densely populated states in the nation; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s policy is to accept all TEFAP foods made available by the USDA, including bonus 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 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 2008 budget included the Governor’s Hunger Initiative, which provided the NJDA with $4 million dollars for Emergency Feeding Organizations to provide nutrient dense food items, including locally grown and processed fresh fruits and vegetables.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agriculture Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on  February 6, 2008, 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 and the New Jersey Model School Nutrition Policy.

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 on building collaborative relationships with local producers to increase purchase of fruits and vegetables in USDA’s domestic nutrition assistance programs including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, The Emergency Food Assistance Program and other commodity distribution programs.
  • 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.
  • The Department will make contact with New Jersey 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 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 any 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 we urge all of the food banks and gleaning operations in New Jersey to 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, and urge the gleaning operations to apply for state operational funding made available through the Governor’s Hunger Initiative.

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 to be in excess of $0.22 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 2009 budget at a level at least equal to the current funding amount and the appropriation of an additional $1 million for infrastructure support to assist local agencies to better store, handle, preserve and distribute these foods, collectively know as the State Food Purchase Program.