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Taxpayers Help NJ Foodbanks At Critical Time [AUDIO]

The days leading up to Thanksgiving is a normally busy time of year for Foodbank’s through out the state but following Super Storm Sandy, demand has more than doubled.

Jennifer Zeligson, NJDA Manager of Food Distribution; Carlos Rodriguez, FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties Executive Director; Secretary Fisher; Rose Tricario, NJDA Director of Division of Food and Nutrition; Luis Tamayo, Dept. of Human Services Director of Advocacy and Programs (Rosetta Key, Townsquare Media)

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties says in just under three weeks, they’ve provided food for just under $800-thousand meals, sending out over 1 million pounds of food to area food pantries including many Turkeys and the trimmings.

Foodbank Director Carlos Rodriguez says, “We don’t know where this is going to plateau but we do know that we are going to need to serve a lot more people over the short run and that the recovery is going to be a long-term effort.”

Prior to the storm, the Neptune facility operated five days a week. Now they’ve been working seven days a week and have getting help from shifts of volunteers to help sort through and organize tractor trailers, vans and cars filled with donated items from across the country. The warehouse doors were wide open, taking in a seemingly non-stop stream of deliveries both expected and unexpected.

That’s why the recent donation of $6,458 from the state’s taxpayers was a welcome surprise hand-delivered by State Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher Monday. Fisher says the money came from the new Community Food Pantry Check-Off fund recently placed on the State’s Tax Filing Forms.

“People can check-off on their income tax return that they want to make a donation and because of their donation in the last two years, $58,000 was collected in the state for the community foodbanks across this great state.”

Checks were also mailed last week to the other 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.

According to the State Department of Agriculture, 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.

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties experienced a miracle of it’s own before the storm. Rodriguez says just days prior to Superstorm Sandy their generator was approved and they had recently received a full shipment of frozen Turkeys. As you know, the Foodbank was also left without electricity for days following the storm.

Foodbank Officials say the biggest need now are monetary donations to help provide gas for the tractor trailers that deliver the donated items to communities through out the two county region. You can contribute at their website or call 732-918-2600 x240 or mail contributions to tax-deductible donations to: The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, 3300 Route 66, Neptune NJ 07753

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