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For Immediate Release: June 2, 2004


Jeff Beach




(TRENTON) – New Jersey students who depend on federally subsidized school lunches and breakfasts don’t have to go hungry over the summer, thanks to programs designed to bridge the gap while schools are on vacation, New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus said today.

"On the eve of the June 3 National Hunger Awareness Day and with the end of the school year also drawing near, it is important to remind people that there are ways children in low-income areas can get nutritious meals even when school is not in session," said Secretary Kuperus.

Sponsors approved by the Department -- including school districts, local government agencies, camps and private nonprofit groups – provide free meals to children at centralized sites, such as schools or community centers, through the Summer Food Service Program. Children 18 or younger can get meals or snacks through the program, as can those over 18 who participate in school programs for people with mental or physical disabilities. Last summer, the summer program served nearly 59,000 participants.

The summertime support is just one of many ways the Department and the agricultural community tackle the hunger issue year-round. As the administrator of the USDA’s subsidized school-meals program, the Department oversees approximately $120 million in subsidized school lunches and another $25 million in breakfasts each school year. Currently, more than 1,200 schools in New Jersey offer the breakfast program, with nearly 100,000 students receiving it daily.

"When you combine the subsidized school meals with our other programs that bring food to those who need it, we’re reaching over a million people a day during the school year,” said Kathy F. Kuser, Director of the Department’s Division of Food and Nutrition.

The Department has even more anti-hunger programs. Through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Department also distributes millions of pounds of surplus products purchased by the USDA to seven emergency food operations, who in turn get them to about 500 community providers serving the needy. Currently, more than 250,000 New Jersey residents receive food through TEFAP.

Other efforts also bring New Jersey’s wide array of fresh products to the hungry. One program, Farmers Against Hunger, recently doubled its capacity by adding a second truck to collect food from farmers and distribute it to needy families statewide.

"Farmers Against Hunger benefits about 6,000 New Jersey residents a week and delivers millions of pounds of food each year," said Secretary Kuperus. "In a state like New Jersey, where an immense bounty of good foods are grown and produced, fending off hunger should be a priority."

For more information on National Hunger Day, visit www.hungerday.org. For more information on the Department's hunger programs, contact the Division of Food and Nutrition in Trenton at (609) 984-0692.