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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AWARDS GRANTS TO GLEANING OPERATIONS
Funding to Help Feed the Hungry of NJFor Immediate Release: March 27, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Three organizations in the state that feed the hungry by redirecting surplus food items donated by local farms will share $100,000 in grants through the New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Food Purchase Program - Gleaning Support Program.
The funds were released today to the following non-profit groups: Interfaith Food Pantry in Morristown, $5,494; Tri-County Community Action Partnership in Bridgeton, $15,000; and the New Jersey Agricultural Society/Farmers Against Hunger, $79,506. Four organizations applied to the Department for the 2008 grants. An independent panel reviewed the applications and made the awards.
“The goal of Governor Corzine’s hunger initiative, the funding source of the grants, is to provide our state’s neediest citizens with fresh fruits and vegetables from our Garden State farmers,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus. “These gleaning operations do just that, complementing the program we have had in place for the past two years that helps our state’s food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens feed nutritious foods to more people.”
The Gleaning Support Program grants must be used by the gleaning organizations for collection, distribution and administrative costs. The groups must distribute the gleaned New Jersey grown produce or non-farm nutrient dense rescued food gleaned from non-farm sources outside of the growing season only to New Jersey residents.
The funding for the grants comes from the State Food Purchase Program, which was established to set in motion the Governor’s hunger initiative. In Fiscal Year 2008, the program received $4 million for the purchase of healthy foods for the hungry. The funds are distributed to six emergency feeding operations in the state, with a priority on purchasing locally produced nutritious foods.
It its first year, the State Food Purchase Program enabled the food banks in the state to buy 3.9 million pounds of foods, helping to feed an additional 69,110 people each month.
Interfaith Food Pantry was established in 1994 and distributes food to 300 families each week, primarily senior citizens living on fixed incomes and low-income working families in Morris County. In 2006, the pantry distributed more than 597,000 pounds of foods to its clients. The pantry works with community organizations and a local farmer for gleanings of fresh produce.
Tri-County Community Action Partnership is part of a poverty-fighting network serving Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester Counties. One of its functions is a gleaning program, which distributes more than 800,000 pounds a year of surplus produce and food products to churches and other food pantries.
Farmers Against Hunger is a program of the New Jersey Agricultural Society dedicated to collecting fresh fruits and vegetables from farms, farm markets, wholesalers and food distributors and distributing it to those in need throughout the state. Started in 1996 by a few area farmers, the program now includes nearly 50 farmers, three grocery store chains, and two produce wholesalers who support the program year-round. In 2004, nearly 1.5 million pounds of produce was collected and distributed to help feed approximately 6,000 people weekly.
It is anticipated that the Department of Agriculture Gleaning Support Program will increase the amount of fresh produce in the feeding system in New Jersey. Estimates are for just Farmers Against Hunger, the additional funding will help feed at least 2,000 more people.