|(VINELAND) – New
Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles
M. Kuperus today urged New Jersey citizens
and communities to continue efforts to
help the hungry in the state as he visited
a soup kitchen at Covenant Presbyterian
Orthodox Church in Vineland to view the
operation and offer his support for the
efforts of the volunteers who give their
time every week to feed hot meals to
between 50 and 90 people.
“We must understand that hunger is a year-round problem,” said Secretary
Kuperus. “Therefore, it is essential that we continually raise awareness
about the problems encountered by the neediest residents in our communities,
who rely upon soup kitchens and food pantries to survive.”
The soup kitchen at Covenant Presbyterian Church operates on Thursdays
and is one of four daily soup kitchens organized by Spirit and Truth Ministries
to feed the hungry of Vineland. On Fridays, they offer bagged lunches at Sacred
Heart Church in Vineland.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture contracts with six emergency food organizations
throughout the state to distribute federally donated food to needy individuals
and families through a network of 650 local soup kitchens, food pantries and homeless shelters. The Emergency
Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in 2003 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 is adults that are working
or unable to find work due to a crisis situation.
“For some, these local soup kitchens are the only opportunity to get a
hot meal,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The people who donate their time,
money, and food items to make this possible are to be commended. More people
need to get involved to help battle hunger.”