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For Immediate Release: November 17, 2005 Contact:

Lynne Richmond

(TRENTON) – Diane Fitzpatrick devoted her career to supporting families, children and individuals in need of food assistance throughout the State. Her coworkers in the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food and Nutrition thought it appropriate to honor the memory of the long-time Coordinator of the Division’s Emergency Food Assistance Program with an annual holiday food drive.

The second annual Diane Fitzpatrick Memorial Food Drive yielded 30 cartons of non- perishable food items, which was presented today to Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative in Trenton by New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus, Division of Food and Nutrition Director Kathy Kuser and Division employees.

Secretary Kuperus (left) and Division of Food and Nutrition Director Kathy Kuser (right) present proceeds of food drive to Phyllis Stoolmacher of Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative.

“Diane will always be remembered as a tireless advocate in the fight against hunger in New Jersey,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Through this annual food drive, and the support of her coworkers, her memory will live on, ensuring that the hungry are not forgotten at holiday time.”

Diane Fitzpatrick began her career with the Department of Agriculture in December of 1990 and was named Coordinator of the Emergency Food Assistance Program in 1992. In her personal life, Diane was a strong proponent of aiding those less fortunate through her work at the church she helped to found, Saints Memorial Community Church in Willingboro.

Diane was instrumental in securing representation on the Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee established in 2001 under the New Jersey Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Act, where her actions secured Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding totaling $500,000 for the Department of Agriculture’s contracted emergency feeding organizations, located throughout New Jersey. TANF is a federal cash assistance program for welfare clients, administered in the state by the Department of Human Services.
Secretary Kuperus with JoAnn Fitzpatrick, Diane's twin sister and
Phyllis Stoolmacher.

Secretary Kuperus today presented Mercer Street Friends with part of that funding – a TANF grant check for $8,733 – which will be used to purchase protein and other nutritional foods for distribution through the agency’s network of charities.

"We are so very grateful to our friends and colleagues at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture for donating the proceeds to their Thanksgiving food collection to the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative,” said Phyllis Stoolmacher, Director of the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative. “This holiday season, coming only a few weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent hurricanes, reminds us all how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. This outpouring of concern for the hungry and impoverished here in Mercer County will ensure that those who are less fortunate are also able to enjoy a holiday meal."

The Department of Agriculture presents grant check to Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative: Left to Right: Phillip Gambutti - Div. of Food and Nutrition, Secretary Kuperus, JoAnn Fitzpatrick, Hope Holland - Coordinator of the Emergency Food Assistance Program, Phyllis Stoolmacher, and Kathy Kuser.

Established in 1987, the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative is a regional food bank, receiving commodities from the Community Foodbank of Hillside, the largest of the Division of Food and Nutrition’s six contracted emergency feeding organizations. Serving Mercer County, Mercer Street Friends annually distributes 1.5 million pounds of food and grocery products to a network of faith-based non-profit charities, feeding 16,000 low-income men, women and children monthly.

The Department of Agriculture has six contracted emergency feeding organizations, serving 660 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters throughout the state.