New Jersey Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee History

The Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee was created through the New Jersey Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program Act, during November 2000, and was allocated an appropriation of $5 million in unexpended TANF funds.

The Committee includes representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Human Services, and Community Affairs, and 10 public members appointed by the Governor. The public members include two representatives of emergency food programs, two representatives of programs serving homeless individuals, the Executive Director of the County Welfare Directors Association of New Jersey, the Municipal Welfare Association of New Jersey and the Association for Children of New Jersey; a nutritionist, and two members of the public who are knowledgeable about emergency food programs.

The Act specifies the Department of Human Services (DHS) shall contract with Rutgers University , for up to $250,000 to conduct a statewide needs assessment to:

  • Identify and quantify, at all steps in the State's food delivery system, wholesome and nutritious food that goes to waste before it can be made available to those in need of such food;
  • Identify and quantify the need for emergency or supplemental feeding for families and individuals in the State;
  • Identify strategies and structures for minimizing spoilage of food resources;
  • Develop a fiscally judicious plan to secure food from loss to deterioration or waste and to transport and apportion that food to emergency feeding programs throughout the State;
  • Develop strategies for behaviorally focused educational outreach with at-risk families and individuals; and
  • Analyze nutritional sufficiencies and deficiencies in existing emergency food programs and develop solutions to generating nutritionally complete, culturally acceptable diets.

DHS contracted with Rutgers University for the study during July 2002. A subcommittee was established to assist in guiding and supporting the Rutgers study and looking at service gaps. The 400 page study entitled Improving Food Security for New Jersey Families: Identifying Food Source, Need, and Tools for Connecting was completed during the fall of 2005.

The Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee, through its Food Security subcommittee, created this website to fulfill the primary goal of nutrition education. The website, which is known as www.endhungernj.net will increase clients' access to hunger related resources and nutrition education materials including: 

  • What is a Food Pantry
  • What is a Soup Kitchen
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • Emergency Food Provider resources (food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters);
  • Access to the Food Stamp Screening Tool;
  • Links to 211 (211 is a telecommunication resource referral system for social services);
  • Nutrition Education links and materials including fact sheets providers could easily download for their clients;
  • Recipes;
  • Information on Food Safety and Food Handling;
  • Links to other providers such as Women Infant and Children (WIC), County Welfare Agencies, Municipal Welfare Agencies, and the Department of Agriculture
  • Links to County Cooperative Extension offices
  • Links to the Food Policy Institute
  • Transportation information to/from county agencies, food banks, soup kitchens and other establishments

$40,000 was allocated for the creation of the website.

Given the need for food, $600,000 in funding was distributed to the six regional food banks during the fall of 2002 for the purchase and distribution of nutritious food for eligible New Jersey families in need. An additional $1.5 million for food was distributed through this same process during the fall of 2003. In addition, the Department of Human Services allocated $90,000 to the Department of Agriculture for the purchase of fruits and vegetables through the Gleening Program. This program harvests fruits and vegetables that would otherwise die on the vine. An additional $500,000 went to the Department of Agriculture to support emergency feeding organizations ($125,000 for each of four years).

During January 2005, $500,000 was distributed to the six regional food banks as the number of families visiting emergency food providers was increasing. An additional $1 million was distributed through the same process during November 2005. At the time, emergency food providers were experiencing a 50-70% drop in donations, caused by donor fatigue following the numerous hurricanes including Katrina and Rita that hit the southern coastal region of the United States .

The committee has identified 12 priority areas of focus, which include:

Food

  • Establish a line item in the budget or a funding strategy (license plates, tax return check-off) or other mechanism to subsidize EFP access to more high quality foods. According to the 2005 nutrient analysis provided by food pantries and soup kitchens, the EFP most lacked calcium rich foods (including dairy alternatives) and fresh fruits and vegetables for their clientele. Funding under the 2000 NJ Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program Act will be exhausted within FY '07.

Infrastructure

  • Strategies need to be developed to establish more soup kitchens. There are far fewer soup kitchens than food pantries in the state. For the lowest income populations, soup kitchens are in greater need as the homeless, for example, have no place to store or cook food resources. Gloucester County does not have a soup kitchen. Other areas in the state need additional sites to meet the growing needs of families with small children. In addition, service hours of existing providers need to expand and include evening hours and weekends so working poor families could access services. 
  • Volunteer Recruitment/Retention Strategies. The emergency food providers which include soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters use volunteers to "staff" their agencies. Strategies need to be developed to assist in recruiting more volunteers, retaining those volunteers, reimbursing volunteers for their expenses (travel reimbursements for delivering food, etc) and rewarding volunteers. 

Outreach

  • Develop literature, in various languages, that explains what soup kitchens and food pantries are, and where clients could access such services. This literature could be distributed in municipal and county welfare offices, Community Action Agencies, Women Infant's and Children (WIC) sites and other community-based locations to meet the needs of food insecure New Jerseyans who don't know what food pantries and soup kitchens are and how they could be accessed. 
  • Encourage participation of low-income and food insecure children in free and reduced price school meal and summer feeding programs. Explore waivers to ease regulations for schools in New Jersey to more easily serve food insecure children. 
  • Create a Hunger related website that will include information on food banks, soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, (that want to be publicly listed); nutrition education materials and recipes for EFP clients; foster communication, strategic planning, best practices and training for EFP operators; describe/define the different kinds of emergency food and related services that are available including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, WIC, WIC Authorized Farm Markets, Food Stamps, County Welfare Offices, Municipal Welfare Offices, and other social service providers, free and reduced price school breakfast and lunch programs, nutrition education; provide electronic links to relevant sites and literature that may be of interest to New Jersey Emergency Food Providers and their clients; link with NJ Transit site for bus schedules, create GIS mapping of EFP sites; link to 211 call center; provide links to information fact sheets on dietary controlled diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol, to name a few. [Note: this recommendation is currently being implemented. The website will be known as www.endhungernj.net; and should be available by mid-2006.]

Access

  • Many food pantries and soup kitchens do not have a computer or internet access to obtain nutritional information to better assist their clients. Other facilities have access to computer and internet hook-up through their parent organizations (agencies, churches, etc), although they are not readily accessible on their premises. Strategies need to be developed to acquire and/or refurbish computers and obtain internet access for food pantries and soup kitchens so they could access nutrition education information, best practices, and encourage communication between EFPs.
  • Many EFPs struggle with vehicles that are in poor condition, borrowed, and not regularly available, and/or are not large enough. Some EFPs have no vehicles at all and rely on their volunteers vehicles to haul food from the food banks and/or to their home-bound clients. Some have to turn away food due to transportation difficulties. Develop strategies that would help EFPs address their transportation concerns. 
  • EFPs have challenges in accessing cold food storage especially for high quality foods. Large-scale refrigerators and freezers are usually in short supply and yet much needed to warehouse large donations and food bank purchases when they become available.

Support Federal Feeding Programs

  • Encourage more farm retailers to participate and to locate markets near WIC offices. 
  • Work with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, farmers' market leaders, and farmers to realize the capacity of farmers' market retailers to use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) technology to accept Food Stamps. 
  • Train EFP volunteers on the Food Stamp Screening Tool application so they can assist their clientele in determining their eligibility for benefits.

Other HPAC Links:

Membership

Legislation

2006 Report to the Legislature

2007 Report to the Legislature

2009 Report to the Legislature

2011 Report to the Legislature

 

 

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