Acting New Jersey Governor Kim Guadagno today, joined by Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher and Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd, announced $1,363,600 in funding for the state’s six food banks to purchase healthy foods to feed the hungry this holiday season. This funding will ensure food assistance for those in need and is the second payment of the fiscal year. During the announcement in Hillside at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the three cabinet officials also, as part of the Administration’s ongoing ‘Season of Service,’ volunteered at the food bank packing bulk food into family bags for distribution. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey distributes 37 million pounds of food and groceries a year, ultimately serving 1,500 non-profit programs including 436 programs served by its Partner Distribution Organizations. Through their combined efforts, they assist 900,000 low-income people in 18 of New Jersey’s 21 counties.
“This funding comes at a critical time when local emergency feeding agencies are providing holiday meals to the people they serve, in addition to their regular food distributions,” said Acting Governor Guadagno. “But the state can’t do it alone. To tackle the hunger issue, we need members of the community to continue to come forward and donate food items, money and time to help our neighbors in need.”
Under Governor Christie, the State has committed $6,818,000 in Fiscal Year 2012 for the Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), which is allocated on a quarterly basis to food banks to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods for distribution to their network of more than 700 food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. This latest SFPP payment is the second of the fiscal year.
This quarterly distribution of SFPP funds includes:
· $904,331 for Community FoodBank of New Jersey (Hillside, Union County)
· $178,282 for Food Bank of South Jersey (Pennsauken, Camden County)
· $141,667 for the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (Neptune, Monmouth County)
· $59,640 for Mercer Street Friends (Ewing, Mercer County)
· $50,786 for Southern Regional Food Distribution Center (Vineland, Cumberland County)
· $28,891 for NORWESCAP (Phillipsburg, Hunterdon County)
Secretary Fisher noted, “Hunger continues to be an issue for many New Jersey residents, with emergency feeding operations throughout the state reporting new people coming to them for assistance every day. The SFPP not only assists the food banks with supplying much-needed food to their local agencies, but that the food has a good nutritional value.”
The amounts allocated to each of the six emergency feeding operations are based on the number of people they serve and other criteria. The first installment of $2,045,400 was distributed to the food banks in July and the remaining fund distributions are slated for February and May 2012.
The Department of Agriculture also coordinates the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes United States Department of Agriculture-donated foods to the food banks. During the past year, the Department accepted 27 million pounds of federal foods through this program.
“Everyone should have access to healthy and nutritious foods regardless of income,” said Commissioner O'Dowd. “Even in tough economic times, no one should have to choose between buying food for their family or paying the rent.”
The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is directly involved in hunger and food access through its ShapingNJ partnership of more than 170 organizations throughout New Jersey as well as other initiatives to improve access to fruits and vegetables in communities through farm markets, gardens and incentives for supermarkets to locate in underserved areas and corner stores to offer healthier, affordable food.
DHSS also administers a supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides access to healthy food for 186,000 low-income women, infants and children up to age 5. The program also provides nutrition assessment and education, breastfeeding support and referrals to local health and social service providers.
Through the Department of Human Services (DHS), the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) is administered as a safety net that supports low-income individuals, families and seniors by enhancing their food budget so that they can buy the groceries they need to stay healthy.
In addition, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is working to help support not-for-profit organizations retain, grow jobs and expand their services to improve communities across New Jersey.
For more on ShapingNJ, visit www.state.nj.us/health/fhs/shapingnj/index.shtml.
For information on the State Food Purchase Program, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/fooddistrib/foodpurchaseprogram.html.
Visit volunteerism.nj.gov to find ways to donate time or www.endhungernj.org to contribute to New Jersey food banks.