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Community BBQ Party to fight hunger
« on: July 11, 2013, 12:35:44 PM »
Community BBQ Party to fight hunger:

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Re: Community BBQ Party to fight hunger
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 11:23:03 PM »
Hackensack food pantry benefit raises $3,500 as clients' needs grow
Sunday July 21, 2013, 7:46 PM
The Record
People who come to the Center for Food Actions site in Hackensack receive emergency groceries that are only supposed to last a week. But they make them last longer.

Michael North of Fink's BBQ prepares smoked barbecue chicken on Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church of Hackensack for a fundraiser for the Englewood-based Center for Food Action.

From left, the Rev. Gloria Tate of Teaneck joins Lorna and Tom Noonan of North Haledon at the barbecue in Hackensack

A lot of clients know how to stretch a seven-day food package for a month, said Jeanette Melendez, site manager for the food pantrys sites in both Hackensack and Fairview. Theyve learned how to survive.

Melendez was one of the roughly 260 people Sunday to attend the First Presbyterian Churchs second annual benefit barbecue for the Center for Food Action. The Hackensack event raised roughly $3,500 for the Englewood-based food pantry, North Jerseys largest with seven sites in Bergen County and one in Passaic Countys Ringwood.

The help is desperately needed. The Center for Food Action has declared a summer food emergency. The pantry is always struggling to stock its shelves, and its particularly difficult when the weather turns steamy.

Donations go down in the summer, said Patricia Espy, executive director for the food pantry.

Potential donors go on vacations, and giving food to pantries is either not a priority with them, or they are not home to give, Espy said. Needy, working parents have additional child care expenses when schools out. And their children no longer have free or subsidized meals at school.

In January, the food pantry distributed seven-day food packages to 4,392 people, Espy said. In June, more than 5,000 people received packages, she said.

That is typical for the summer, Espy said.

The pantry this summer has the additional demand of providing assistance for Superstorm Sandy victims in Moonachie and Little Ferry.

First Presbyterian Church keeps a small food pantry of its own for the needy, and also donates food from churchgoers to the Center for Food Actions Hackensack site at 316 First St., said the Rev. Steven McClelland, the churchs pastor. The pantry offers clients emergency food packages up to 12 times a year based on income eligibility.

Last year, the Passaic Street church decided to do more to help the pantry by hosting the barbecue, which drew roughly the same size crowd.

We wanted to be a service to the community, McClelland said. We decided to go ahead and do it again because the problem of hunger hasnt gone away; in fact, its gotten worse in Bergen County.

Finks BBQ Smokehouse in Dumont provided the food for Sundays community barbecue party to fight hunger, where attendees feasted on pulled pork, grilled chicken, cole slaw, spicy greens and corn souffl.

Were just trying to help the community, said chef Michael North.

First Presbyterian Church this year and last year donated all the proceeds from its barbecue to the Center for Food Action. Last year, that meant the church spent $3,000 to $4,000 of its own money to put on the event. This year First Presbyterian is spending a faction of that, because of sponsors including a local ShopRite and Stop & Shop, Pascack Community Bank and a coalition of churches called the Presbytery of the Palisades, McClelland said.

Despite the recovery from the Great Recession, the poverty rate in North Jersey, considered an affluent area, is 75 percent higher than it was 20 years ago, according to the Center for Food Action. And the problem of hunger doesnt seem to be abating, said Epsy.

In 2007, the start of the recession, the Center for Food Action provided seven-day food packages to 36,000 people, she said. Last year, packages were distributed to 67,441 people, according to Espy.

Right now, the Center for Food Actions website says, Can You Help? Food donations have fallen well below what is needed to continue providing our nutritionally balanced food packages.

The center said it urgently needs canned tuna, peanut butter, pasta and macaroni and cheese.

McClelland and Melendez also dont see any slowdown in the people coming to them seeking food from their pantries.

While most of his flock is fairly OK financially, the pastor said, we definitely have street people in our church. And we have people who have come out of the homeless shelter and are now living in apartments. And theyre just getting by.

There are so many hungry and more in the suburbs now than ever before. Everyplace has hungry people, they just tend to be a little more invisible in some of the more affluent areas.

So it doesnt appear that the Center for Food Actions role will be diminished.

Last year, we distributed $4 million worth of donated food and purchased several hundred thousand dollars' worth of food, including fresh produce, meat, eggs, Korean and diabetic foods, Espy said. We also paid landlords and utility companies more than $1.3 million on behalf of our clients.

In addition to his own church members at the barbecue, McClelland said he saw clergy from other Hackensack churches as well as towns such as Ramsey, Teaneck and Hasbrouck Heights. Church elder Robert Ortiz said that two church members who moved to Georgia came back Sunday for the barbecue.

"Thanks to the First Presbyterian Church in Hackensack and the many individuals, houses of worship and companies that support our work, Epsy said, CFA is able to get food and other critical services to those in our community who are struggling to put food on their tables and keep a roof over their heads."

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