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SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE JOINS VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE CHRISTMAS LUNCH AT MILLVILLE SOUP KITCHEN
Large Crowd Enjoys Hot Holiday MealFor Immediate Release: December 23, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(MILLVILLE) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus today rolled up his sleeves and joined a group of hardworking volunteers to brighten the holiday season for hundreds of people at the Bethel Soup Kitchen in Millville.
Kuperus and the volunteers served an all home-cooked Christmas lunch, including turkey, ham, rice, stuffing, vegetables and cake and pie for dessert at the soup kitchen, which has been operating for the past 10 years.
“Bethel Soup Kitchen provides essential services to area residents who might not otherwise have a nutritious daily meal, not only during Christmastime, but year-round,” said Secretary Kuperus. “During this recession, even more people are reaching out for this type of help, and organizations throughout the state like Bethel, with their dedicated volunteers, are adapting to meet their needs with kindness and compassion.”
Just one year ago, Bethel Soup Kitchen was serving a hot, sit-down lunch three days a week. That was increased to four days a week in October, due to the growing need.
“We have about 15 core volunteers to keep the operation going,” said Hope Heldreth, soup kitchen director. “These volunteers do it out of the love of their hearts, helping to get the food, prepare it, and clean up. Our oldest volunteer was 92 and was with us every day up until recently.”
Bethel Development Commission also runs a food pantry four times a week that distributes 3,200 meals each month. Both the soup kitchen and food pantry receive United States Department of Agriculture-donated commodities through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and nutritious food from the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), both administered by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
In 2008, the TEFAP received 9,076,382 pounds of USDA donated commodities, which was distributed to the six contracted emergency feeding operations and redistributed to their network of 793 local pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
On December 12, Governor Jon S. Corzine signed a bill that included $3 million to supplement the SFPP, due to shortages throughout the emergency food distribution system. That $3 million plus the SFPP budgeted $4 million is being distributed to the state’s food banks for nutrient-dense food purchases for the hungry. For information on the State Food Purchase Program, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/fooddistrib/foodpurchaseprogram.html.