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Volunteers Create Community Garden to Feed Low-Income Families

Volunteers Elizabeth Ostunit, Laura Quigley, Elysia Ochs, Mary Spector, Claudia Kunath and Frances Naftal have created a bountiful garden at Project Self-Sufficiency (not pictured:  Lisa Kelly, Christine Parauda, Erin Shroll, Rhoda Seider, and Pat Wilson).

A small group of gardeners has been making a big impact at Project Self-Sufficiency this summer.  The agency’s vegetable garden, a community project which was initiated in 2011 by longtime benefactor Frances Naftal, has been bearing all kinds of crops for agency participants to take home and enjoy.  Produce is harvested from the garden 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 out and learning about healthy eating habits at the same time. 

“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.   “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 Treasurer Rhoda Seider has been an active participant in the garden project since its inception.  She is spearheading a team of volunteers made up of agency supporters and local master gardeners, including Lisa Kelly, Claudia Kunath, Frances Naftal, Elysia Ochs, Liz Ostuni, Christine Parauda, Laura Quigley, Erin Shroll, Mary Spector, and Pat Wilson.  Throughout the spring and summer months the team has met weekly and together they have mulched, watered, weeded and created a bountiful garden.  “The spirit of the committee and the enthusiasm of the idea of providing homegrown vegetables to our participants was such a lift for us,” noted Rhoda Seider.  “It’s bringing a smile to everyone’s face.”  

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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 19,500 families, including over 30,000 children. 

For more information about the programs and services available at Project Self-Sufficiency, visit the agency’s website or call the agency at 973-940-3500.

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