Eat At Bella Gente, Help VFEE


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Tonight–Thursday, May 2–Bella Gente restaurant will kick off a program to encourage more innovative teaching in Verona’s public schools.

Kim Cheung, who has owned the restaurant since 2005, will donate 10% of your meal cost on Thursdays to the Verona Foundation for Educational Excellence. VFEE funds grants to teachers, like the “One School, One Book” program that has been going on at the elementary schools or the “Composer In Residence” grant that is helping H.B. Whitehorne students to learn about creating music.

The donation pledge is good on dine-in and take-out meals, as well as on all catering booked on Thursdays. All diners have to do is write “Verona Schools” on their bill and Cheung will make the contribution.

The VFEE donation grew out of a similar program the Cheung has been running for donations to Our Lady of the Lake school. It seems a natural fit for Cheung, a Verona resident who has three children in public school here already and a fourth who will start in the future. Passionate about improving and enhancing math education in Verona, Cheung hopes that some math instructors will apply for the grants, which are awarded each spring and fall.

VFEE Chair Doug Smith noted last week that because the non-profit keeps its overhead low, almost 100% of every donation goes to the schools. “We provide grants to teachers so they can find creative ways to enhance the educational experience,” he said.

Bella Gente is open noon to 10 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. The VFEE donation offer is only on Thursdays and you’ve got to write “Verona Schools” on your check. If you go tonight, you might see some faces from the schools: Superintendent Steve Forte promised at the last Board of Education meeting to dine out with the district’s administrative assistants.

Doug Smith, VFEE; Kim Cheung, Bella Gente's owner; Oscar Herrera, pizza maker at Bella Gente; and Steve Forte, Verona superintendent.
Doug Smith, VFEE; Kim Cheung, Bella Gente’s owner; Oscar Herrera, pizza maker at Bella Gente; and Steve Forte, Verona superintendent.


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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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