On Eve Of Thanksgiving, Menendez Brings Attention To Strain On Food Banks, Says Economic Recovery Package Is Helping

On Eve Of Thanksgiving, Menendez Brings Attention To Strain On Food Banks, Says Economic Recovery Package Is Helping

Appearing at Community Food Bank of NJ, Senator discusses $350 million for food assistance programs NJ is receiving from recovery package

Hillside - On the eve of Thanksgiving, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) visited the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside to shine a spotlight on the strain food banks are facing during this economic recession. As more families have fallen on tough times but fewer businesses and individuals are able to contribute, food banks have been facing shortages. Senator Menendez cited this as a reason that the $350 million New Jersey is receiving for food assistance programs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is so important.

"Food banks have always been a bedrock for the neediest among us, including the poor, the working poor, the elderly and disabled," said Senator Menendez. "During these tough times, the new face of need is a neighbor, a friend, maybe a relative. It's an average, hard-working middle class mother or father pushed to the edge. It's someone who always held a decent job all their lives, always paid the bills and maybe saved enough to take a vacation every now and then. Now, they sit around the kitchen table at night faced with the dilemma of either making one more mortgage payment or buying food for the holidays.

"It is clear that this recession is showing us the real impact of the financial meltdown on thousands of families who are one check away from disaster. But it also presents us with an opportunity to do more and do better. In total, our state is receiving close to $350 million for food assistance programs through the recovery package, because if we are to recover fully from this recession, families have to stay afloat during the toughest times."

The Community Food Bank of New Jersey has received $317,000 from the State Department of Agriculture through ARRA funding. This assistance is helping the food bank distribute food secured by the Department of Agriculture with Emergency Food Assistance Program funding as part of ARRA.

"In more than three decades of food banking, I have never before seen so much need for our food services," said Kathleen DiChiara, founder and Executive Director of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. "We have always served the chronically poor and now we are serving the newly poor as well." She said, referring to those who are unemployed and underemployed.

In total, New Jersey is receiving the following food assistance funding through ARRA:

• $2 million for National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance;
• $2.2 million through the Emergency Food Assistance Program;
• $296.5 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly Food Stamps);
• $2.8 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which provides grants to nonprofit and faith-based organizations at the local level to supplement their programs for emergency food and shelter to provide for the immediate needs of the homeless;
• $12.8 million for Head Start to allow additional children to participate in this program, which provides development, educational, health, nutritional, social and other activities that prepare children to succeed in school;
• $27.6 million in Community Services Block Grants to local community action agencies for services to the growing numbers of low-income families hurt by the economic crisis, such as housing and mortgage counseling, jobs skills training, food pantry assistance, as well as benefits outreach and enrollment;• $2.2 million for Senior Meals Programs to help senior meals programs cope with steep increases in food and fuel costs. Many programs are reducing meal deliveries to seniors or closing meal sites.