(NEPTUNE) – New Jersey Agriculture Secretary
Charles M. Kuperus today pitched in at the FoodBank
of Monmouth and Ocean Counties as 100 Thanksgiving
meals were prepared for children in an afterschool
tutoring program in Asbury Park.
“As families around New Jersey celebrate Thanksgiving, we must not forget
those less fortunate than us who confront the issue of hunger every day,” said
Secretary Kuperus. “While the problem may seem more pronounced during the
holidays, the Department works cooperatively with communities year-round to battle
and Chef Ray Cattley -- instructor at the FoodBank’s culinary
arts job skills training program for low income people who are
either currently receiving or at risk of needing emergency food
-- whipped up selections from the “Jersey Fresh Cooks” cookbook
using United States Department of Agriculture commodities and
Jersey Fresh produce, including Turkey Scallopine with Pecans
and Apples, Herbed Oven Brown Potatoes, and Grilled Batonette
of Jersey Butternut Squash with Parmesan Cheese.
The meals are part of the “Hope Begins Here” program, a cooperative
agreement between the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and
the FoodBank allowing the use of USDA commodities in preparing meals
for the Monmouth County Boys and Girls Club in Asbury Park. According
to the 2000 census, 40.5 percent of all children in Asbury Park live
in households with incomes below the Federal poverty line.
“In a country as advanced as ours, there is no reason any child should
go to bed hungry,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Programs like this one
at the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties ensure kids get a hot meal every
day after school, and get a real taste of Thanksgiving, using the freshest locally
grown vegetables and herbs the season has to offer.”
The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is one of six emergency food
organizations statewide the NJDA contracts with to distribute federally
donated food to needy individuals and families through a network of 650
local pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
“We are very excited that Secretary Kuperus was here to help prepare food
for the Asbury Park Boys and Girls Club,” said Susan Kelly, FoodBank Executive
Director. “Secretary Kuperus recognizes the problems of poverty and hunger
and supports this issue statewide. Without the Department of Agriculture’s
support for our work at the FoodBank, many of our neighbors would not receive
In 2003, the FoodBank distributed 3.4 million pounds of dry and canned
food, fresh produce, frozen meat, poultry and fish, dairy products and
other grocery items. Of that, 43.5 percent was USDA commodities. USDA
donated commodities are allocated through The Emergency Food Assistance
Program (TEFAP), a federal program administered in New Jersey through
the state Department of Agriculture (NJDA). Last year, TEFAP served 1,421,462
recipients and provided 3,895,679 meals at soup kitchens and shelters.
In New Jersey, 14.8 percent of children under 18 live in poverty. Two
out of every five people receiving emergency food are children. One out
of every five is elderly, living on a fixed income. The remainder are
adults that are working or unable to find work due to a crisis situation.
The Secretary’s tour also included a visit to St. Paul’s
Community Development Corporation’s food pantry in Paterson to
assemble and distribute holiday food packages to those in need.