Highlights Mobile Food Pantry as New Method to Distribute Food Items
(TRENTON) –Emphasizing the need for food pantry donations 12 months a year, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today joined the Food Bank of South Jersey at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Thorofare for a local food distribution with the Hope Mobile, the food bank’s mobile food pantry. The Hope Mobile is an 18-wheel tractor trailer that regularly serves between 100 and 150 people at that site.
“There are many areas of the state where residents having trouble making ends meet do not have access to nutritious food,” said Secretary Fisher. “The Hope Mobile and others like it around the state are bringing the food directly to those in need and also providing fresh produce from New Jersey farmers during the summer months.”
The Hope Mobile distributes to 15 sites monthly throughout Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Salem Counties and reaches more than 21,000 families faced with food insecurity issues. To date, the Hope Mobile has distributed more than 156,000 pounds of food each month since it went on the road in July 2010.
The tractor trailer used as the Hope Mobile can hold 45,000 pounds of food and also provides cooking classes, nutrition education, food stamp outreach and other services to improve nutrition and self-reliance.
Summer traditionally is a time when food pantries report less donated food items to stock their shelves.
“Hunger does not stop during the summer months,” said Secretary Fisher. “Food donations are needed throughout the year, so I encourage residents to organize their own local food drives at work or in their neighborhood or to visit a food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen to drop off food items.”
The Food Bank of South Jersey serves 170,000 people annually; nearly a third of that total is children. In 1985, the food bank distributed 175,000 pounds of food annually as compared to 9 million pounds distributed in 2010.
The Department of Agriculture serves six state-contracted food banks with a network of 793 food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. In 2009, more than 20 million pounds of United States Department of Agriculture-donated food were distributed to the food banks through The Emergency Food Assistance Program and 7 million pounds through the State Food Purchase Program, the state-funded program that requires food banks to purchase nutrient-dense foods with an emphasis on buying fresh produce from New Jersey’s farmers.
For information on becoming a volunteer at an emergency food distribution agency, visitwww.state.nj.us/state/programs/dos_program_volunteerism.html .
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