NEWTON, NJ – Project Self-Sufficiency’s Newton campus was transformed this summer by the installation of five additional vegetable gardens which have been bearing all kinds of crops for agency participants to take home and enjoy. In addition, hundreds of potted tomato plants wreath the sidewalks throughout the 5-acre campus. Produce is harvested daily and offered to agency participants as they enter the lobby at Project Self-Sufficiency. Baskets are provided for families to cart the bounty home and share with their children. Participants are given tips on cooking and nutrition along with the food, and the children at the agency’s Little Sprouts Early Learning Center are helping with the harvest while learning about healthy eating habits.
The agency’s original vegetable garden was initiated in 2011 by longtime benefactor Frances Gould Naftal. The program was so popular that a host of community volunteers descended upon the campus on a rainy spring day and created the additional gardens. “It was an unprecedented community undertaking, the likes of which we may never see again,” noted Frances recently. Volunteers ranged from over 100 students and faculty from Blair Academy to seasoned horticulturalists and professional contractors with earth-moving equipment.
Offering fresh produce to its low-income clientele had been a longstanding goal at Project Self-Sufficiency. “Getting fresh food to low-income families in our area is a constant challenge, yet we live in an area of New Jersey renowned for its lush farmland and the fresh produce available at local markets,” remarked Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “Frances Gould Naftal is a true visionary. We are humbled by the efforts of all of the volunteers who have come together to help to address the issue of hunger in our community in a meaningful, long-lasting way. They have helped to break the cycle of poverty by not only providing food to these families, but educating them about the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a daily diet.”
Project Self-Sufficiency is a private non-profit community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey. The agency’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to improve their lives and the lives of their children through the achievement of personal and economic self-sufficiency and family stability. Since 1986 Project Self-Sufficiency has served more than 20,000 families, including over 30,000 children.
For more information about the programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, visit the agency’s website www.projectselfsufficiency.org or call the agency at 973-940-3500.