Food Service and Community Programs
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey (CFBNJ) is the largest anti-poverty organization in the state of New Jersey. Their mission is to fight hunger and poverty in New Jersey by assisting those in need and seeking long-term solutions. They engage, educate, empower and align all sectors of society to achieve their mission. By working together with volunteers, donors and their many partners, they work to fill the emptiness caused by hunger with food, help and hope.
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey provides a broad arrange of services, such as:
- Provision of food to over 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across 16 counties in NJ.
- Free Healthy Farmers Markets throughout NJ.
- Food Service Training Academy (free culinary training program).
- Nutrition education program (NJ SNAP-Ed).
- Annual Teen Hunger Summit with Seton Hall Prep.
- Diabetes education program.
- Youth programming to develop leadership skills, community service projects and volunteering.
- Teen Leadership Council.
- Diaper Bank.
- Period Project to address access to period supplies.
The link between nutrition and good health is well established, and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is key to a healthy diet and the management of chronic illnesses. Poverty, because it can limit access to fresh, healthy food, is a risk factor for nutrition-related diseases including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
In Jersey City, data shows that 18% of residents live in poverty and 24% fall into the category that the United Way calls ALICE-Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. However, technically above the federal poverty line, this group makes less than what is needed to pay for basic needs. Community Foodbank of New Jersey is a longstanding HealthierJC partner, working to combat these statistics by supporting community food markets and providing nutrition education within at-risk Jersey City neighborhoods.
HealthierJC + Community Foodbank of New Jersey
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey promotes a Culture of Health by leveling the playing field to ensure all Jersey City residents have equitable access to good nutrition. They accomplished this by leveraging their statewide scale, buying power, and logistical knowledge to procure produce efficiently and cost-effectively. However, for distribution it is critical for Community Foodbank of New Jersey to partner with local organizations like HealthierJC with deep knowledge of and relationships with the community. The end goal is simply to make the healthy choice, the easy choice.
The Community Foodbank of New Jersey Farmer’s Market program closely aligns with the HealthierJC mission to expand access to quality food and healthy local resources. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the multi-year contribution and commitment of Community Foodbank of New Jersey to advancing a Culture of Health in Jersey City.
Healthy Family Farmers Markets in Jersey City
Pre-covid, the HealthierJC mini-grant contributed to the Community Foodbank of New Jersey’s four Healthy Families Farmers Market sites in Jersey City – which were free, monthly, seasonal produce events.
60+ state foodbank collection programs supply the Community Foodbank of New Jersey food network in Jersey City. With the HealthierJC mini-grant, Community Foodbank of New Jersey specifically focused on securing fruit and vegetable provisions for the four (4) Jersey City sites designated as Healthy Families Farmers Markets.
Specifically, a total of 260,745 lbs. of produce were allocated to the following Jersey City locations:
- Bethany Lutheran Church (2015 Kennedy Boulevard, West Bergen) – 75,746 lbs.
- Mission House of Grace (293 Pacific Avenue, Bergen Lafayette) – 103,014 lbs.
- Building Blocks of New Jersey/Foundation of Salvation Church (324 Communipaw Avenue, Bergen Lafayette) – 64,665 lbs.
- Currie Woods Tenant Task Force (65-67 Ruby Brown Terrace, Greenville) – 72,694 lbs.
In addition to the Healthy Families Farmers Markets, Community Foodbank of New Jersey also delivered additional provisions to these Jersey City locations for food pantry and similar community food distribution venues:
- Bethany Lutheran received an additional 63,499 lbs.
- Mission House of Grace received an additional 152,156 lbs.
- Building Blocks of New Jersey received an additional 21,600 lbs.
- Currie Woods received an additional 109,089 lbs.
Broken down by ward, three (3) of these food distribution venues were located in Ward A (Mission House of Grace, Building Blocks of NJ and Currie Woods), and one (1) in Ward B (Bethany Lutheran Church).
Responding to the Pandemic
Post-covid, Community Foodbank of New Jersey remained focused on alleviating food insecurity throughout the state of New Jersey. Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented – provisioning partner closures due to staff illness, strained supply chain operational models, and increased need at the community level – they increased their food provisioning and distribution efforts by 55% (from 50 to 85 million meals) through 2021. In addition, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, Community Foodbank of New Jersey projected an historic level of 88 million meals would be delivered via their network to local community channels.
In tandem with the monthly Jersey City Healthy Family Farmers Markets, Community Foodbank of New Jersey increased distribution to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior food box program, and Kids Cafe after-school meal programs. Moreover, through funding that Community Foodbank of New Jersey received through the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund’s Endurance Grants program, dollars for nutrition education and emergency meals were awarded to the following organizations:
- Bethany Lutheran – $14,800
- Currie Woods Tenant Task Force – $1,629
While food distribution has been their primary objective, Community Foodbank of New Jersey also considers the close partnership developed with HealthierJC over the past few years to be an important indirect benefit. They understand that local trust and collaboration is vital to longer-term efforts to advance wellness and alleviate food security in Jersey City.
In the coming years, Community Foodbank of New Jersey seeks to expand and deepen their partnership with HealthierJC to pursue shared public health objectives. Both organizations see the value of aligning state and local resources to eradicate hunger and advance health equity in low-income communities.
Meetings are held to facilitate a bi-directional exchange of information, and to coordinate the development of community services, including:
- Leveraging the Community Foodbank of New Jersey Resource Access team to provide in-person and virtual assistance to Jersey City residents applying for SNAP program benefits.
- Partnering with the Jersey City Housing Authority on food distribution events.
- Deploying the Community Foodbank of New Jersey SNAP-Ed nutrition education team to several Jersey City community sites.
- Conducting nutrition classes with participants of the Jersey City Healthy Greens Initiative.
- Submitting a second round of New Jersey state grant applications by 2022 year end. Healthy Families Farmers Market sites, as well as all Jersey City network partners may apply for this funding.
- Maintaining support for food insecure Jersey City residents through package food deliveries to local soup kitchens and mobile food pantries.
Moving forward, Community Foodbank of New Jersey plans to fight hunger and poverty in New Jersey by assisting those in need and seeking long-term solutions. Community Foodbank of New Jersey is fully committed to advancing this public health agenda during times of relative calm and during periods of upheaval. In the year ahead, Jersey City will be one of the Hudson County communities targeted by Community Foodbank of New Jersey for nutritional education, focused outreach and a more focused approach to SNAP-Ed programs. They look forward to expanding their partnership with HealthierJC in the war against hunger in New Jersey.
For more information about Community Foodbank of New Jersey, please visit the organization’s website at https://cfbnj.org/