TASK and Capital City Farm Celebrate Halloween

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A new organization held several events to celebrate Halloween in Trenton.

Until recently, a vacant lot was located in the heart of the East Trenton community, angering local residents and business owners. Last year, D&R Greenway Land Trust opened the Capital City Farm along North Clinton Avenue. Many vegetables are grown outside on the property, and there is an on-site greenhouse. Now, the farm, which is one of a kind in urban Mercer County, is playing more of a role in the community.

From 3:30pm to 5:00pm on October 31st, there were a variety of on-site activities for children and adults all ages. A corn maze was held in the field, and several volunteers from The College of New Jersey and a Hamilton Township-based company handed out free pumpkins, tomatoes, and peppers to community members who were either trick-or-treating or just passing by. Dozens stopped by the farm stand, many of whom said that the free produce ‘made their day’.

The events were held in conjunction with the Halloween party at the neighboring Trenton Area Soup Kitchen on Escher Street, which was presented by volunteers and students from TCNJ and Rider University.

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Clinton and Trump Hold Rallies in Philadelphia Area

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Both of the leading presidential candidates came to rallies in Southeastern Pennsylvania this weekend that were attended by thousands of people.

Republican Donald Trump spoke at an event at an athletic club in the suburban Bucks County township of Newtown on Friday evening. Topics addressed by Trump ranged from immigration to Common Core, and he also discussed manufacturing in the region, stating that “just a few miles from here, there’s a famous bridge that says Trenton Makes, The World Takes. Under a Trump administration, I can promise you we are going to start making things in America again.” At one point, after making claims regarding crime rates in the country, Trump said “you don’t hear that from these dishonest people back there, meaning the media, look at them”, at which point the entire crowd turned around and booed, chanting ”CNN sucks” and other lines.

The following evening, both Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and vice-presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine took the stage 30 miles south on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, with the Center City skyline in the background. Clinton, speaking outdoors on one of the coldest nights of the season, mentioned mass incarceration, the economy, higher education, and other issues. Additional speakers included candidates for Pennsylvania state offices and Katie McGinty, a candidate to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate.

One of the 7,000 attendees at Clinton’s rally was resident Michael Grant, best known as Philly Jesus, who told The Wall that having events like this in Philadelphia is “nice”, but that he is “on the fence” about which candidate he supports.

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Event Discusses Preservation Opportunities in Trenton

By Jared Kofsky

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An event was held this week to raise awareness of historic buildings throughout the City of Trenton.

The Trenton Historical Society held the ‘Trenton’s Top Ten Preservation Opportunities’ program on Wednesday evening atop the Broad Street Bank Building on East State Street in the city’s Downtown. The building, once used for commercial purposes, later became abandoned, but now contains apartments. Local architect and program host John Hatch called it “one of the most prominent buildings in the City of Trenton”.

Hatch cited other successful revitalization projects in the city, such as the Ferdinand Roebling Mansion on West State Street, which now serves as the headquarters of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, and the Golden Swan Building on South Warren Street. Many of the event’s organizers hope that many buildings across the city can undergo similar transformations.

Dozens of Trentonians and area residents were in attendance, including Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, Councilwoman Marge-Caldwell Wilson, and Diana Rogers of the Trenton Division of Housing and Economic Development.

“This is an awesome event”, said Mayor Jackson, adding that “it talks about historic preservation which is vitally critical to our city.”

Sites on the list ranged from the vacant Trenton Junior High School #1 on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to the former East Trenton and Skelton Branch Libraries to the Trenton Savings Fund Society Building, which lies abandoned in the heart of Downtown Trenton. Suggestions of future use for these spaces included housing, offices, retail space, and a bank branch. Other properties mentioned include the Mercer County Court House, the Horsman Doll Factory, the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, The Hermitage, the Higbee Street School, The Residence at 320 Spring Street, and the Prospect Street Presbyterian Church.

“I applaud as well as support the Trenton Historical Society for the great work and commitment they have to our city”, Mayor Jackson told The Wall.

Click here to view all of the speeches.

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Local Residents Honored at The White House

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By Jared Kofsky

On Thursday, President Barack Obama honored the recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal in the East Room of The White House in Washington, DC.

Elaine Pagels, of Princeton, was one of the honorees. It was announced at the event that “through her study of ancient manuscripts and other scholarly work, she has generated new interest and dialogue about our contemporary search for knowledge and meaning”. Pagels is a professor at Princeton University. James McBride, an author from Lambertville, received the National Humanities Award “for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America”.

Other honorees included the Prison University Project, which allows incarcerated people in California to take college courses, Terry Gross, the host of Fresh Air on WHYY 91 FM, Mel Brooks, and Berry Gordy.

Click here to see photos from the event.

 

School Lunches: Do The Portions Satisfy A Child’s Hunger?

By Ashbel Soto & Jon Hall

Food insecurity has become a major issue in Trenton, affecting the lives of families and children. Many children rely on school lunches for much of their dietary needs. The government has enacted a federal program to ensure that students in public schools do not go hungry. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, free or low cost lunches to children every day. Its main objective is to provide a well balanced meal to students in an attempt to better their health and academic achievement. Many students who come from low-income families qualify for free or reduced lunch if they meet the criteria on the application provided by the Trenton Board of Education. The Trenton Central High Chambers released that about 58 percent of the student body population in the Trenton school district get free or reduced lunch. The NSLP requires that students meet a certain income bracket to qualify for free or reduced lunch. That income bracket ranges depending on the number of people per household. If there are two members in your household, then your average income should be $21,257. There are students who do not meet the income bracket, but they still cannot afford to pay the $2.57 daily for lunch meals in the Trenton Public Schools. Kadelta Sykes, the supervisor of Eickhoff Dining Hall and the supervisor of Food Services for Parker Elementary in Trenton, stated that the number of applicants for the free or reduced lunch program is increasing. “If most parents qualify for food stamps, then they are able to get free or reduced lunch,” said Sykes. “Most kids are ashamed to say they are on food stamps or free or reduced lunch, but it’s okay when you need the meal. Most parents fight for their kids to be accepted into the free or reduced lunch program because it lessens the burden of them having to pay for it.” Although every child receives a meal, are the portions adequate to satisfy a child’s hunger?  “The portions are adequate because we provide fresh vegetables, hot vegetables, canned fruit, fresh fruit, juice and milk,” Sykes said. “We give children enough food for a lunch meal and fresh food to give them the nutrients they need.” There are also students who pay for lunch, but may sometimes not be able to afford it. “Most students do not pay for lunch, but those who do and cannot pay for lunch that day, we give them a cheese sandwich and fresh vegetables,” said Sykes. “Parker elementary has a program that requires students to have fresh fruits and vegetables with their meals. Often times, students ask for cheese sandwiches instead of a regular meal, so we prepare enough cheese sandwiches for the day to make sure there is enough for everyone. Our goal is to ensure that no student is left behind or hungry.” According to the Trenton School Board, there are approximately 200 students in the Trenton Public School system who are experiencing homelessness and often worry about when their next meal will be. Most students depend on school meals to feed them since they do not have cooked meals at home on a daily basis. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture stated that one of the objectives of the national school lunch program is to provide onethird of the recommended dietary allowances for lunch. However, there are students within the Trenton Public Schools who say the quality of the food is not appetizing enough for them. “I didn’t really eat school lunch. I would skip lunch most of the time and would wait till I got home to eat,” said a current junior biology major here at The College of New Jersey, who is a former student from Trenton West High School. “However, when I did eat the school lunch, the portions were okay to meet my needs.” She believes that the Trenton Board of Education should attempt to improve the quality of the lunches. Sykes has a different opinion on the quality of the food in Trenton Public Schools. “Every year the quality of the food gets better,” Sykes said. “ At first, fresh fruits and vegetables were only delivered two times a week. Now, delivery with fresh produce comes in four times a week. The cafeteria cannot sell snacks that are not state approved.

As of right now, we also sell baked chips to students with their lunches, which is healthier.” Food insecurity in Trenton has become an issue affecting the student body population. Trenton does not have many local or nearby grocery stores for many Mercer County residents, which makes it impossible for families without vehicles to go grocery shopping. Studies have shown that Trenton only has about three local supermarkets, which forces residents to reside on local fast food chains or bodegas (corner stores). This food desert problem in Trenton affects students academically because students find themselves skipping breakfast at home, giving them little room to focus on their school work and more on their hunger. The NSLP also provides breakfast for students, which satisfies their nutritional needs, enhances their attention span, allowing them to succeed academically. When a student’s hunger is satisfied, it gives them more room to concentrate on what is occurring in class and encourages them to participate more. However, Trenton Public Schools serve breakfast during a certain time frame, which many students have a hard time meeting. Students who take the bus are not liable for their late arrival to school. The school kitchen does not serve breakfast after the time is up — leaving students hungry. Sykes said that although students arrive late to school, most of the time, there are extra snacks left from breakfast that students are able to have. She added that if a child walks into the cafeteria after breakfast has been served, they’re allowed to get juice and a snack to take with them. Although there are many different views on the Trenton Public Schools food distribution, schools are ensuring that the children’s hunger needs are met. With an 11.9 percent poverty rate in the Mercer County area, it is probable that the number of children on free or reduced lunch will increase. The Trenton school district is doing everything to ensure that their children have the proper healthy meals each day.