In an effort to help stamp out hunger in New Jersey, Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak will take part in a statewide summit on Tuesday as part of a weeklong celebration to help promote the innovative, new practice known as “gleaning,” which makes good use of the billions of dollars in food that goes to waste every year in the United States.
In doing so, Andrzejczak will deliver remarks at the statewide Gleaning Summit to be held at Fernbrook Farms in Chesterfield, NJ at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20, which will bring together legislators, cabinet officials, farmers, emergency feeding partners and volunteers to discuss the practice, followed by an actual gleaning event.
Andrzejczak, who chairs the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, was one of the lead sponsors of a three-bill package signed into law earlier this year to promote the practice of “gleaning,” which is the process of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state and county fairs, or other sources in order to provide it to those in need.
“Gleaning prevents food waste, gives low income populations access to fresh, healthy foods, provides valuable resources to nonprofit agencies, and builds good relations between community members and farmers,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Given the abundance of wealth in this country, no American should ever have to go hungry, especially when we have so much excess food that goes to waste.”
Andrzejczak noted that each year, approximately 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. goes uneaten due to losses at the farm, retail, and consumer levels. This wasted food costs Americans $165 billion in retail sales and uses up valuable water and energy resources. Meanwhile, 49 million Americans, including 16 million children, are at risk of going hungry. In New Jersey, alone, 1.15 million people, including 375,000 children, are affected by food insecurity.
One of Andrzejczak’s laws designated the last full week in September as “New Jersey Gleaning Week” and another law deemed the Wednesday of that week as “Farmers Against Hunger Day” and directed the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to take measures to publicize both.
New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger (FAH) is a program of the New Jersey Agricultural Society, which was started in 1996 by farmers who sought to have their surplus produce go to good use by feeding those in need, and continues to be led by farmers who support the mission. FAH annually recovers 1.4 million pounds of surplus produce, reducing food waste and providing a healthy, nutritious source of food for New Jersey residents in need who are struggling with food insecurity and malnutrition.
Farmers Against Hunger Day will take place on September 21st, which will include a gleaning with New Jersey American Water in Chesterfield and other social media contests/events.