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Six Food Banks Awarded State Grants [AUDIO]

Six major food banks in the Garden State are the recipients of some much needed additional funds thanks to the awarding of over two hundred and twenty five thousand in Community Services Block Grants (CSBG).

Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher and DCA Commissioner Richard Constable
Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media

Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard Constable III and State Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher announced the awarding of 225,610 in CSBG while at the Lacey Food Bank Tuesday.

DCA Commissioner Constable said the grants come from the federal government which gives money to all states in the union towards worthy projects.

“In this instance we decided to give money to food banks throughout the state that are serving our most struggling and vulnerable families.”

Constable notes the grants can be directed at any worthy cause, however the administration is committing itself to address the issue of hunger, especially during difficult economic times.

“Myself as well as the Secretary of Agriculture are partnering with this network of food banks throughout the state to help shelters and pantries and homeless centers. To ensure that individuals that are going home aren’t going home hungry at night. ”

The money will be distributed amongst six major food banks based on the poverty level of the counties they serve.

The Department of Agriculture administers the distribution of food from federal government and state food purchase programs to the six Food Banks. Department of Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher says one of the focuses from his office is to make sure Food Banks can purchase fresh produce whenever possible, preferably from Jersey farmers.

“Because local is just as important to anyone at any means at any levels in terms of getting nutritious foods.”

Community Food Bank, which serves Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union, as well as Camden, Cape May, and parts of Burlington will receive $149,355. Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties received $23,867. The Food Bank of South Jersey services Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem Counties received $28,212. Mercer Street Friends received $9,850. NORWESCAP which serves Hunterdon, Warren, and Sussex received $4,791 and Southern Regional Food Distribution Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, and Salem received $9,535.

“The moneys will go to purchase food purchase food supplies it will go towards the storage of food supplies so they don’t perish, and we want to incentivize food pantries to purchase locally.” Says Constable. Noting many Jersey Farmers have given discounts where food banks are involved.

Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez says every dollar of their 23,212 will be going towards food with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables. Noting every dollar goes towards putting three meals on the table.

“We have a very thin and very efficient and effective budget.”

He notes one of the challenges of getting fresh fruit is worrying about spoilage. Even with demand at record highs Rodriguez says it’s a dance.

“One of the things we’re doing to accommodate that is we’re bringing in a fourth truck to help with additional deliveries to not only help get more food product out to programs, but to do additional special produce runs.”

The funding for the truck will come from separate fundraising. Rodriguez emphasizes the money from the block grants will only be used for food purchases.

Constable says the recipients of the funds will be monitored to make sure the money is spent properly.

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