Christie Administration Distributes $58,000 to Food Banks

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture, Douglas H. Fisher, presented a $6,458 check to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties today, their portion of the $58,223 Community Food Pantry Fund, representing two years of contributions through a state income tax form check-off program.

“This taxpayer-donated fund will provide a boost to the state’s emergency food distribution system at a time when many new people are seeking assistance due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” said Secretary Fisher.  “The generosity of our state’s residents will allow the food banks to supplement their food supplies at what is already normally a busy time of year for them.”

Checks were mailed last week to the other five state-contracted food banks:  Community Foodbank of New Jersey, Hillside, $38,145; Food Bank of South Jersey, Pennsauken, $6,984; Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Vineland, $2,951;Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Ewing, $2,554; and NORWESCAP, Phillipsburg, $1,128.

The fund was the result of recommendations from the state’s Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee in an effort to create an on-going funding stream to assist with the acquisition of emergency food to enhance the emergency food provider system.

The check-off was first available on the 2010 tax year forms.  It allows taxpayers to either contribute a portion of their tax refund or make a donation.  Money collected for the fund administered by the Department of Agriculture must be used exclusively for food purchases.   Those wishing to contribute will find the check-off item on their NJ-1040 income tax form.

“So many New Jerseyans lost food and power for extended periods as a result of Hurricane Sandy,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “This funding will help ensure that residents in this hardest hit area of the state – many who may have been struggling financially before the storm – at least have access to food.”

Governor Christie and the State Legislature allocated $6,818,000 for the current fiscal year’s New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Food Purchase Program (SFPP).  That money is distributed quarterly to the state’s six food banks for the purchase of healthy foods, with an emphasis on buying produce from New Jersey farmers.  The SFPP is in its sixth year.

The Department also distributes United States Department of Agriculture-donated food to the six food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Following today’s check presentation, Secretary Fisher volunteered at St. Brigid’s Pantry at St. James Church in Long Branch, helping to distribute Thanksgiving food bags to those in need.