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Families Around the Dinner Table

November 2021

Tristan Wallack, our Senior Director of Programming and Operations, shares his thoughts on Thanksgiving and highlights one of our programs addressing food insecurity.

It is hard to believe Thanksgiving is upon us. It is even harder to believe that for many of us, this will be the first time we see some of our loved ones in person in nearly two years. That certainly applies for my family and me. 

Thanksgiving can mean many things. It is a holiday to reflect on what you have and not take anything for granted. It can also be a reminder that others may not have everything you have and that it is important to give back if you are able. But in its most fundamental way, Thanksgiving is about the importance of family and friends and enjoying a nice meal together. 

2020 and 2021 have been difficult for all of us for a variety of reasons, but they have been particularly hard for some people. For the approximately 1.2 million people in New Jersey who are food insecure, sitting at a table and having the food they need is not always a reality. 

At America’s Grow-a-Row we grow, glean, and distribute fresh produce to address the problem of food insecurity, and we also have provide an educational component where we work with underserved communities to teach people about the importance of fresh produce. We have many partners and programs in this effort, but I wanted to highlight one in particular called the ComMITT Kit program. 

In collaboration with the Hunterdon County Partnership for Health and the Flemington Area Food Pantry, we supply 325 people (75 families) in Hunterdon County each month with a box of fresh produce, either from our farm during the growing season or through the generosity of the ShopRites of Hunterdon County in the offseason. Our Executive Chef, Shauna Alvarez, then works with our programming team to produce a video each month demonstrating how to use the ingredients to prepare a nutritious and, equally as important, tasty meal. The program has been an enormous success. The number of people impacted has grown by 50% since the program’s launch just one year ago. 

Dealing with food insecurity is not an easy task. It can be difficult for families to make ends meet. But with our ComMITT Kit program, we are helping families come together at the dinner table to enjoy a healthy, nutritious meal. And the impact of this program is felt every month of the year, not just around the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

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