The mission of the Center for Food Action is to “prevent hunger and homelessness and improve the lives of individuals and families living in poverty.”
A Safety Net
The Center for Food Action (CFA), founded in 1976, is a non-profit, 501 (c) (3) organization that provides emergency services to northern New Jersey’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. CFA provides food, housing, utility and heating assistance and offers counseling and advocacy services to low-income individuals and families. CFA is headquartered in Englewood and has sites in Fairview, Hackensack, Mahwah, Ridgefield, Ringwood, and Saddle Brook. In 2014, at the request of Bergen Community College, CFA opened a site on BCC’s Paramus campus in order to serve low-income students and their families.
People from more than 100 towns in northern New Jersey receive a wide range of emergency and case management services so that they are able to put food on their tables, keep a roof over their heads, keep their lights and gas on, heat their homes and get the information, referrals, counseling and advocacy services they need to improve their lives.
Hunger Has Many Faces
The Center for Food Action is an important community resource for those living in poverty. Hunger has many faces; it shows itself in a parent skipping meals so her children can eat, a child going to bed with an empty stomach, an elderly person choosing to pay rent rather than buy groceries, the mom who at the end of the month encourages her teenage son to go to dinner at his friend’s home so he has a meal, the elderly man going through a dumpster outside a local restaurant and the grandmother raising her grandchildren who regularly adds water to milk to make it stretch a few more days. Each of these individuals lives in our community and has turned to CFA for help.
CFA provides the working poor, the recently unemployed, the chronically ill, and the elderly, children living in poverty, survivors of domestic abuse and people with disabilities with immediate help. Through our case management program, our advocates’ provide information, referrals, counseling and assistance in accessing public programs and other community services. They work with people who are struggling and help them meet their immediate needs – food, shelter, heat, and lights while at the same time helping clients make plans to attain a better future.
And the Numbers Continue to Grow
In 2014, CFA provided over $4,000,000 worth of food, that's over 65,500 emergency and holiday food packages. Six years ago, CFA was giving out 2,500 food packages a month. Now, on average, we are giving out more than 4,700 seven-day food packages monthly. We also provide holiday food packages to more than 3,300 households. We expended more than $1,450,000 in financial assistance to clients in order to prevent evictions and the disconnection of their electric and gas services and to assist families and seniors with heating oil.