Rosa Ramirez, director of breakfast and lunch programs at St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral School in Camden, went to Trenton on Monday to testify before the State Assembly Budget Committee on proposed cuts to the school food programs.
Traveling with her was a van of youths and adults organized through Camden Churches Organized for People, all participants in the school’s food programs.
“I wanted the assemblymen and women to look in the faces of the children who will go hungry every school day if they move forward with these outrageous cuts,” explained Ramirez.
At St. Joseph’s Pro-Cathedral elementary school alone, more than 75 percent of the students receive either free or a reduced price for the breakfast, lunch, and snack program. “We only give them the good stuff, none of that fatty junk food,” explained Juanita Cruz, assistant to Ramirez at St. Joseph’s, adding, “These children are coming from working families; of the 253 enrolled in our program only 38 are on welfare.”
Adding to the energy and passion of their trip to Trenton is the fact that one of President Obama’s national goals was to end childhood hunger by 2015. Supporting this initiative the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee last month approved legislation that will allocate an additional $4.5 billion over the next 10 years for nutrition programs. This legislation would also expand the number of low income children eligible for free or reduced cost meals.