Struggling N.J. food banks get extra $147,000 in state aid

Food banks in New Jersey are getting $147,000 from the state to help meet an increasing demand for their services.

About $30,000 of that amount will go toward purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables from Garden State growers.

The extra money is less than 1 percent of what New Jersey food banks spend to buy food that supplements the donated supplies they distribute to soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters.

Kathleen DiChiara, the CEO of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, said the fresh produce is a welcome addition.

“It is something that we rarely get donated in any large quantity, and it’s one of the quickest ways to raise the nutritional level of the poor,” she said.

Officials from food banks around the state say the demand for their supplies is increasing at a time when the economy is causing a drop in donations.

Phyllis Stoolmacher, director of the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank in Ewing, said food banks are struggling.

“We’ve seen a drop off in food donations and food resources. It’s just a function of the economy. Whether it’s the cost of food or diminished funding to federal programs or diminished funding to us, it has had a real impact,” she said. “At the same time, where we have less food the demand is up.”

Val Traore, the CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, said she is not sure there will be enough food to help all those in need during the approaching holiday season.

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