Newark – Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz was at Newark Central High School today donating the produce collected at her gleaning event last Friday to Table to Table. The event and donation were held in partnership with Newark Public Schools, the New Jersey Farm Bureau, the New Jersey Agricultural Society, Farmers Against Hunger and Giamarese Farm.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are a key component to living a healthy life. Unfortunately, even here in the Garden State, many children do not have access to fresh produce on a daily basis. Our gleaning event is part of a larger effort to elevate the conversation about nutrition in our school food program,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “In the coming months I will be introducing a bill package to improve the health standards and accessibility of our school meals. By serving healthier meals we can improve the wellbeing of the children in our state and ensure they understand the meaning and importance of a well-balanced diet.”
The New Jersey Agricultural Society and Table to Table helped facilitate the delivery of the produce to the school. The Agricultural Society works to preserve and enhance agriculture, farming and related activities and businesses in New Jersey through educational, informational and promotional programs. Table to Table is a community-based food rescue program that collects perishable food that would otherwise be wasted and delivers it to organizations that serve the hungry in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties.
“We love any opportunity to connect those in our state’s urban centers to our flourishing agriculture industry,” said Al Murray, Executive Director, New Jersey Agricultural Society. “It was wonderful working with Senator Ruiz to organize this donation and we look forward to working with the Senator further on her efforts to connect the farm to the classroom.”
“Access to healthy, nutritious food is critical for a child’s ability to learn and grow. Table to Table rescues only healthy, fresh food and delivers it free of charge to feed our hungry neighbors, including children in 26 Newark schools,” said Suzanne Brown, President of Table to Table. “Since January, Table to Table delivered 440,000 pounds of fresh food to Central High School, just one of our five distribution “hubs” so students and their families have free access on a weekly basis. We are proud to work with Senator Ruiz to provide NJ school children with healthy, nutrient rich food that allows them to learn, grow and thrive.”
“Today’s donation is especially meaningful to Central High, and Newark Public Schools, since it was some of our own students who picked the produce. Senator Ruiz is a strong advocate for the district and it is always special to have her here in the schools,” said Roger León, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. “Her legislation to remove the cost associated with reduced price lunches will go a long way in helping Newark families struggling to make ends meet and I am excited to see what else she has in store to improve our school nutrition programs.”