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Action Needed on The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) by Rev. Sara Lilja, LOGM director

The NJ Department of Agriculture Division of Food and Nutrition coordinates the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). This program is designed to distribute federally donated food to eligible people. Since 1982, TEFAP in New Jersey has distributing several million pounds of federal food throughout the state’s twenty-one counties. This program currently provides over 70 different food items such as: Fresh fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, ham, rice, pasta, cereal, canned beans, raisins, peanut butter, bottled fruit juices, milk, canned fruits and vegetables etc., to New Jersey’s eligible citizens challenged by food insecurity. Currently, New Jersey receives over 20 million pounds of foods annually.

TEFAP is working through seven emergency feeding organizations statewide to distribute federally donated foods to soup kitchens, food pantries and public feeding sites serving the state’s neediest citizens. Last year $28,000 were donated to Food Banks through the “Check off Program” when they filed their taxes. The recipients included Community Foodbank of New Jersey, Hillside, $18,277; Food Bank of South Jersey, Pennsauken, $3,496; FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune, $3,216; Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Vineland, $1,193; Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Ewing, $1,226; and NORWESCAP, Phillipsburg, $487. These monies have not been able to keep up with the demand for food assistance in our state.

The Food Bank’s shelves are very low even as need is expected to increase as the year drawls to a close. Last year the Administration, allocated additional funds into the State Food Purchase Program so that additional food was purchased and used to stock the Food Bank shelves. Join us in calling the Governor’s office to ask for emerency funds again this year. The Governor’s can be reached at Office of the Governor, PO Box 011, Trenton, NJ 08625. Please call 609-292-6000.

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