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Photo of Susan Kelly and Secretary Kuperus looking at fresh produce - Click to enlarge
State Food Purchase Program Helping To Feed Additional Hungry in New Jersey
For Immediate Release: May 29, 2007
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(NEPTUNE) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today presented the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties with a check for $58,625 for the purchase of nutritious food to feed the hungry in the two counties.

The check to the FoodBank represented the fourth installment in Governor Jon S. Corzine’s Initiative to Fight Hunger. The Governor’s initiative has already allocated $3 million to regional Emergency Feeding Operations (EFOs) around the state for the purchase of nutrient dense foods to feed an additional half million people in the state this past year.  The remaining fourth quarter checks to the other EFOs were mailed out today.

“Last year we set out to feed more of the hungry and improve the ability of local food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters to store and prepare food,” said Governor Corzine.  “While we’ve accomplished our initial goal our job is not done. I am committed to working with the Legislature to continue this invaluable program in the next fiscal year.”

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture developed the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) to administer funding from the Governor’s initiative and has assisted the emergency feeding operations in finding local sources to purchase healthy foods to distribute to their member agencies.

Photo of Senator Joe Kyrillos, Susan Kelly and Secretary Kuperus “Governor Corzine’s hunger initiative has made a significant difference in the lives of our state’s most in-need residents,” said Secretary Kuperus.  “Our goal was not only to feed more citizens, but also to provide them with healthier meals while teaching them about good nutrition and I’m proud to say that we’ve achieved this goal.”  

In the past year, the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties has distributed 156,614 pounds of food to 67 charities in Monmouth County and 46 in Ocean County.  A variety of items were purchased with $128,940 in SFPP funds from local vendors, including:  turkeys, milk, eggs, cheese, apples, frozen tilapia fillets, canned fruits, peanut butter, grape jelly and rice.

“The State Food Purchase Program enables food banks to provide nutritious foods to the poor and undernourished in our communities at a time when local and national food donations are on a severe decline,” said Susan M. Kelly, Executive Director of the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  “With an emphasis on purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from local and state farmers and vendors, the State Food Purchase Program also provides much needed support to the local economy.”

In addition to the $3 million for additional food purchases, the hunger initiative included $1 million in infrastructure improvement funds.  The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties received $42,324 allocated to the emergency feeding operations to expand and improve the capabilities of their local distributing agencies. This will allow the FoodBank to store and prepare nutrient dense food items purchased through the State Food Purchase Program.

The FoodBank today presented Catholic Charities’ food pantry in Lakewood with Photo of produce, eggs and cheese at the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties a much-needed refrigerator, purchased with the infrastructure money, enabling the agency for the first time to offer its 1,100 monthly clients items like farm-fresh eggs and Jersey Fresh spinach and romaine lettuce that the Foodbank will be distributing to the 113 charities that participate in the State Food Purchase Program.  The agency plans to purchase more Jersey Fresh products as the state’s growing season gets into high gear.

Two other charities also received equipment today from the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties:
  • Just Be Cuz, a food pantry in Asbury Park, which serves 284 clients each month, received a refrigerator.  They did not have a refrigerator prior to this.
  • St. Brigid’s at St. James Church, a food pantry in Long Branch, which serves 648 clients each month, received a freezer.  They did not have a freezer and still have no refrigeration capabilities.

Seventeen other agencies have been approved by the FoodBank to receive refrigerators, freezers and combination units purchased with the infrastructure money.

Governor Corzine has proposed an increase in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget for the State Food Purchase Program to $4 million to be spent entirely on food purchases.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture operates the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which distributes food donated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a network of 660 food pantries, soup kitchens and other feeding operations.  Last year, the Department distributed more than 10 million pounds of the USDA commodities.