Breakfast feast a DARE Day tradition for EHTPD

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Members of Egg Harbor Township Police Department gather at the home of Barbara and Jeff Harte before the DARE Day at the Dr. Joyanne D. Miller School on Wednesday, June 13. Laura Stetser photo. EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP –Each year the members of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department participate in a Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or D.A.R.E., program at the Dr. Joyanne D. Miller School to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs, gangs and violence among the students there. And since 1996, one township resident has been feeding the officers breakfast at her Alder Avenue home before the day’s activities begin as a way to give back to the department.

“I think it is important to give back to the community,” said Barbara Harte, whose son Robert Harte is also a member of the department. “Even as young parents, we would volunteer as coaches and serve on boards of directors. For years I was on the domestic violence team as a volunteer, too. When I was working I used to save up my personal days to take off for this breakfast.”

The tradition started 16 years ago when her son asked if the department could use their horseshoe-shaped driveway as a staging area for the vehicles that are used in the event down the street at the school. Harte and her husband Jeff agreed, and the first year, she only bought the officers some coffee and donuts.

Officer Michael Palmentieri said the department appreciates the annual meal, which ahs grown to feast proportions.

“She really supports us and gives back,” Palmentieri said. “It’s great.”

On Wednesday, June 13, the officers were bellied up to the Harte kitchen island, seated at her dining room table and lounging on the sofa in the family room. Police vehicles lined every side of the driveway and spilled out onto Alder Avenue.

“This year I bought 16 pounds of bacon, 5 to 6 dozen eggs, 2 pounds of air-dried beef for the creamed chipped beef, one gallon of cream, 2 to 3 dozen bagels and 6 pounds of cream cheese,” she said. “We have fruit smoothies and a big bowl of fresh fruit. I probably have too much fruit this year, but I just kept cutting and cutting.”

Beside the bagels, Harte said everything she prepares is homemade, including the cream cheese into which she mixed onions and vegetables. She makes creamed chipped beef, a crowd favorite. In the past she has also made french toast and omelets to order.

“I cut up all of the bread for the french toast this year, but I didn’t have time to make it,” she said. “They were asking for it, though. They like it because I use challah bread.”

While she shops for the meal a few days ahead by visiting an Amish market in Williamstown, she wakes up at 5 a.m. the morning of the breakfast to start cooking it all. This year, her daughter Jennifer Palermo and family friend Brianna Cary helped.

Palmentieri said the food is delectable.

“It’s like going to a casino but the atmosphere is better,” he said.

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