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Another Round of Checks Distributed to Foodbanks in State For Food Purchases
For Immediate Release: February 3, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(TRENTON) – Although the number of New Jersey residents seeking food assistance during these tough economic times remains elevated from a year ago, funding from Governor Jon S. Corzine’s Hunger Initiative and supplemental funding provided by his Economic Stimulus package have helped keep food on the shelves and pantries open in the last two months. 

To ensure the flow of food to the state’s needy continues, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture on Friday, January 30 issued State Food Purchase Program checks totaling $1,853,750 to the state’s six emergency feeding operations.  Those funds must be used for food purchases, with a priority on buying locally grown or produced food.

“When many more people have found themselves in a position to need help feeding themselves and their families, our State Legislature, corporations, volunteers and private citizens have come together to ensure that people in our state do not have to go to bed hungry each night,” said Governor Corzine.  “While the additional funding we provided seems to have eased the crisis, we continue to encourage New Jersey companies and fellow residents to come to the aid of their neighbors.”

Receiving State Food Purchase Program funding were:  Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Hillside; Food Bank of South Jersey, Pennsauken; Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune; Mercer Street Friends, Ewing; NORWESCAP, Phillipsburg; Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Vineland.  The amounts allocated to each of the six emergency feeding operations are based on the number of people they serve and other criteria.

The final State Food Purchase Program funds disbursement of Fiscal Year 2009 is scheduled for May.  The food banks have received $4,996,250 million from the program since July.  Four million dollars were allocated for the program in the current state budget.  In December, the Governor and Legislature included an extra $3 million in the Economic Stimulus package to help ease shortages that were being reported throughout the state.

“We continue to see an increase in participation at some food pantries and soup kitchens of up to 40 percent over last year, which created a strain on the distribution system,” said Acting Secretary of Agriculture Alfred W. Murray.  “However, through the supplemental funding and generosity from the community, all of the state’s food banks and pantries are reporting adequate supply for the demand.  We will continue to closely monitor their status in case shortages arise again.”

The food banks use the State Food Purchase Program funds to buy fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods and distribute the items to their network of 793 food pantries, homeless shelters and soup kitchens.  During the growing season, they must buy from local farmers and farmer cooperatives.

The State Food Purchase Program began in 2006 with a $3 million allocation for nutrient-dense food purchases for the hungry, which enabled the state’s food banks to purchase 3.9 million pounds of food that fed an average of 262,695 pounds of food monthly that fed 69,110 recipients each month for the first year of the program.  Another million dollars was used to buy needed equipment, such as refrigerators and freezers for the local distribution agencies.

In 2007, the program was continued with $4 million for food purchases, with $100,000 used to assist gleaning operations with administrative costs.  Gleaning organizations gather surplus food directly from farmers and distribute the produce to hunger relief organizations in the state.

For information on the State Food Purchase Program, visit: