Amid Announcement of Federal Probe, Christie Announces Camden School Initiative

Christie announced a free dinner program at six schools as the U.S. Attorney's Office announced a federal probe into the "Bridgegate" scandal.

Gov. Chris Christie answers questions from elementary school students at the Thomas H. Dudley Family School in Camden on Thursday.
Gov. Chris Christie answers questions from elementary school students at the Thomas H. Dudley Family School in Camden on Thursday.
By Anthony Bellano

If Gov. Chris Christie was concerned with a federal subpoena filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in relation to the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal, he didn’t show it in Camden Thursday afternoon.

Even in the face of reporters asking questions, Christie maintained his composure, answering reporters with “It’s good to see you guys,” as he entered the Thomas H. Dudley Family School and reminding them “I’m not taking questions,” as he left.

The only interrogators he did engage Thursday afternoon were the elementary school students at the school, who asked “What’s your favorite sport?” “What’s the hardest part of your job?” and “If you weren’t governor, what job would you want to do?”

Christie responded to the last question by saying “College teacher.” Any response that might have resembled a political future may be becoming a distant memory with each passing day.

In the gymnasium following these questions, Christie, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and Superintendent of Schools Paymon Rouhanifard announced the beginning of an pilot program in six Camden schools that provides a free dinner between 3:30 and 4 p.m. It includes a prepackaged hot meal. 

Currently, between 75 and 125 students a day take advantage of the free meal. Christie was hoping Thursday’s announcement would bring attention to the program. The schools involved in the program are the Dudley School, Camden High School, Octavius V. Catto Community School, Hatch Family School, H.B. Wilson and U.S. Wiggins.

Should the program prove successful, it could become a statewide initiative, Christie said.

He put it in the context of all the progress being made in the city, including the establishment of the metro division of the Camden County Police Force, an effort to put high school dropouts back in school and an effort to ensure students get to school safely called the Safety Corridor Initiative.

“We’re working together to make a real difference,” Christie said of the state government and the city officials. “We partnered together and are working together. We all agreed on what our goals are and what we need to do to achieve them.”

He spoke about the negative impact hunger can have on a student’s ability to learn, stating it can serve as a distraction. He spoke about the impact it has on the students’ families, as well.

“There’s nothing more painful than to see your children not learning because you know that means their future will be limited,” Christie said. “ … For me, the next four years is about trying to finish the job on education.”

Christie’s announcement comes amid a number of investigations, including the federal investigation and the combined investigation into the lane closure at the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s accusations that the administration withheld Sandy relief funding from her town.

Inside the school on Thursday, Christie found support from those in attendance, the mayor and the superintendent. Outside, residents questioned why the announcement was closed to the general public.

That question, and many others, went unanswered, at least for now.

J.JONES January 24, 2014 at 10:01 AM
Its all about the political trash path to build up or shoot down the candidate choices for 2016. Its a witch hunt against Christie and try to build up Hellary . It should be what have you done and what can you do to help the American middle class that's in so much trouble and get Obamacare gone .. We Have 4 more years of this crap to but up with ..
bayway mike January 24, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Betcha that one of the final acts that Christie does, is to pardon Michael J. Ritacco.. (sic)
Mac January 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM
@bayway mike - I think CC is going to have to win Obama another teddy bear first
disgusted homeowner January 25, 2014 at 07:22 AM
Crispy creme will be the first in line when these free dinners are handed out. He may be loosing weight but his nose is getting bigger like pinnocio!!!!!!!! All the folks who lost their homestead rebates after he was first elected as governor are paying for his daily (maybe hourly) visits to Burger King. He was even seen wearing 1 of those paper crowns when he was leaving burger king the other day. Check instagram.
Sun Tzu January 27, 2014 at 07:09 AM
Good morning everyone. Call me an optimist, but I'm thinking today is going to be a great day.


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