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Hunger and Nutrition in New Jersey

, schools are an appropriate vehicle to promote the availability of healthier foods and nutrition services, as they are uniquely positioned to model and reinforce healthy eating behaviors such as increasing knowledge of and improving access to fruits and vegetables on the school campus and at school-related activities; and
WHEREAS, schools can serve as an outreach tool to carry positive nutrition messages to parents and the community at large; and
WHEREAS, schools are required to develop and implement a school nutrition/wellness policy and to promote nutritious alternatives, and the Department continues to train and encourage marketing nutritious foods to children and incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into the school meal program; and
WHEREAS, a sound, balanced, nutritional diet is important to the wellbeing of society, both in terms of the future productivity of our children and the health and wellbeing of the population in general; and
WHEREAS, reflecting the entire nation’s ongoing economic tribulations,1.9 million people in New Jersey rely upon various feeding and nutrition programs administered by or through the Department; 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 consumers; and
WHEREAS, volunteer gleaning organizations that provide surplus produce from farms to community feeding operations are a valuable source of fresh agricultural products that do not demand financial resources for purchasing this food, yet still have costs related to storage and transportation of this produce; and
WHEREAS, the state and federal governments have identified the issue of “food deserts” – areas where people lack significant access to fresh agricultural products due to poverty, lack of viable transportation or scarcity of food retailers capable of providing an adequate supply of such products – as an issue that deserves serious attention.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 97th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on January 18-19, 2012, do hereby continue to support the efforts of the Department and its partners in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as community feeding organizations 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 wellbeing of New Jersey's citizens by promoting programs such as “Eat Right, Move More,” “Jersey Fresh Farm to School”, and the New Jersey School Nutrition/Wellness Policy.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and Legislature to recognize the critical nature of maintaining state funding levels supporting the federal school nutrition and commodity programs in an amount that will ensure that no accompanying federal funds are lost.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge those at all levels responsible for purchasing or otherwise acquiring food for community feeding programs to ensure that those foods are grown, harvested or produced in New Jersey to the greatest extent practicable.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we stress the critical nature of the Governor and Legislature providing adequate funding for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) in the FY2013 budget at a level at least equal to the current funding, and that additional funding should be provided for storage and distribution of emergency food.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Department to work with New Jersey fruit and vegetable processing companies and the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to produce pre-packaged, value-added, single-serving New Jersey fruit and vegetable products, and other “Made With Jersey Fresh”” products, for use in school food service menus.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Governor and Legislature to continue including volunteer gleaning organizations among those who receive financial support in their efforts to feed the hungry.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly support increased participation in the following safety-net federal and state nutrition programs administered by the Department: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program; After School Snack Program; Special Milk Program; Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program; Child and Adult Care Food Program; Summer Food Service Program; School Commodity Program; The Emergency Food Assistance Program; The State Food Purchase Program; WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the Department’s continued participation in the state’s multi-agency “Healthy Foods Initiative,” which has been convened to address the issue of food deserts by developing a more extensive supply of locally grown and produced, fresh agricultural products into those areas where such items are now difficult to obtain, and to expand the ways in which residents of those areas can obtain those items.