WHEREAS, research shows that in children, hunger not only attacks physical well-being, but also contributes to a loss of concentration, performance, intellectual growth and malnutrition: 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 encouraging the incorporation of more fresh 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, the Department receives federal funding to assist in the administration and delivery of school nutrition programs, and such funding is commensurate with the amount of state-level funding provided to these programs; 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 obesity and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. To further assure better health, the “More Matters Program” which encourages greater consumption of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, should be a daily adherence; 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 2008, the WIC Farmers Market Program served more than 48,000 New Jersey children, 2-5 years of age (next year WIC women will be included again); and
WHEREAS, since the expansion of the WIC Farmers Market Program in 1997, to include the Senior Farmers Market Program for eligible senior citizens, it presents an opportunity to provide nutritional benefits of farm fresh produce to economically disadvantaged elderly citizens. In 2008 more than 30,000 eligible seniors were able to improve their diets with locally grown fresh produce, thereby further providing a valuable and reliable way for New Jersey farmers’ products to be obtained specifically, 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 continue to encourage farmers and their cooperatives to become vendors to state and county agencies, Department of Defense (DOD), Emergency Feeding Organizations (EFOs) and schools; 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 9 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 Organizations (EFOs) is 10 cents per pound and it is becoming more and more difficult for the EFOs to continue to participate and absorb a portion of the un-reimbursed expenses, such as delivery and transportation costs; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey’s policy is to accept all TEFAP foods made available by the USDA, including bonus foods and additional bonuses which are not accepted by other states, and no additional funding is provided; and
WHEREAS, local purchases of food items including fresh fruits and vegetables can benefit the local economy, growers and distributors thus reducing the number of “food miles” those commodities must travel to reach the end recipients; 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 fresh fruits and vegetables.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 94th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 11, 2009, 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 we strongly urge the Legislature and Governor to maintain state funding levels for school nutrition programs in an amount that will ensure no loss of accompanying federal funding.
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, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the new WIC Food Package that provides the “Cash-Value Vouchers (effective October 1, 2009), 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 2009.
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 2010 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 existing Emergency Feeding Organizations (EFOs) with better storage (especially freezer storage), and distribute these foods collectively known as the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP).