Frequently Asked Questions

How many people experience hunger in NJ?

One in ten New Jersey residents struggles with hunger. In 2016, 919,030 residents in the Garden State were living in food insecure households. One in seven children in New Jersey struggle with hunger, as do over 239,000  seniors.

Why do people need help from Center for Food Action?

From five locations, CFA helps families and individuals in need in northern New Jersey. Our clients are typically low-income families and individuals, the elderly and those with disabilities. Many often find themselves in crisis situations because of the strain of providing food and shelter for their families, paying their utility bills and meeting their other basic expenses.  Most of our clients have at least one working member in their household.

Sometimes a disaster such as an illness, injury, a fire, or the sudden loss of a job means someone will need CFA’s help to meet the basics of life – food, shelter, heat, and lights. Even a car repair bill, the need to replace a heater, a costly prescription can throw a carefully balanced budget into the red.

Can someone just stop in or do they need to make an appointment?

Clients are seen by appointment only.  When a local resident calls for help with putting food on their table or keeping a roof over their head, they are given an appointment to meet with a social worker or advocate in one of our 8 locations. They are asked to bring their personal ID, tax information, and work history to their initial appointment.  During that appointment, our team discusses specific dietary concerns and provides information, referrals, counseling, and advocacy to help them access government and community services to which they are entitled.I identification is needed for each family member.

Advocates work with families to help them assess their options and makes recommendations to clients so that they can address the issues that led to the immediate crises and suggests ways they can implement long-term solutions that will help provide individuals and families with a better quality of life.

If appropriate, clients are referred to CFA’s other programs, which include assistance with rent, security deposits, utility bills, purchase of heating oil, etc.

Does CFA help people beyond providing food?

While CFA will always make getting food to those in our community a priority, sometimes it takes more than food to help someone get back on their feet. It’s important to highlight all the ways you help people when you support CFA so we’re emphasizing our Taking Action Beyond the Bag.

Preventing an eviction, paying a security deposit, covering a utility bill
or paying for the delivery of heating oil on behalf of a family or a senior citizen is often all it takes to keep someone from spiraling down, which is why CFA invested $771,000 to help 823 households with these basic needs in 2018.

By providing help with these essentials and by making case management an important part of our work, our neighbors benefitted by having a much-needed breathing space and CFA’s support in helping them improve their lives.

Emergency Food Program: CFA provides seven-day nutritious food packages to low-income people from eight sites in northern New Jersey. CFA makes every effort to accommodate clients with special needs, including Diabetic Food, Low Salt, Gluten Free, Kosher and Korean Food Packages. Last year we distributed nearly 64,000 emergency and holiday food packages to local families in need. •

Homelessness Prevention and Heating, and Utility Assistance Program: CFA prevents evictions and the disconnection of utilities by paying security deposits on behalf of the household. When funding is available, the landlord or company is paid directly by CFA. Last year we helped 2,195 households with other basic needs such as rent, security deposits and utility and heating bills.

Weekend Snack Pack Program: Many low-income parents rely on school meals to feed their children. Often, children go hungry on the weekends when these meals are not available. Children attending seven area schools are given easy-to-prepare, single serving food items for the weekend. This program has been warmly received by the schools, parents, and students. Last year we distributed 33,215 snack packs. To local kids who are hungry.

Thanksgiving Meal Packages: Traditionally, CFA has given Thanksgiving food packages to over 3,000 low-income households. Many of CFA’s regular volunteers and several hundred additional volunteers assist with this effort.

Counseling and Advocacy: CFA provides information, referrals, counseling, and advocacy to clients and helps them access government and community services to which they are entitled. Workshops are periodically offered on topics such as: nutrition, budgeting, buying healthy foods on a limited budget, etc. Staff and volunteers follow-up with clients and provide additional support as needed.

CFA Garden Program: As part of our effort to improve the quality of food our clients have access to, CFA has launched a community garden on the premises of CFA Englewood. We are happy to say that outside groups are also starting community gardens and donating the harvest to CFA.

Smile Pack Program: This is a new initiative with the goal of encouraging our young clients to exercise proper dental hygiene. Each Smile Pack contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc. These packs will be added twice a year to our Weekend Snack Packs and, as available, given to clients with young children as part of their seven-day food package.

Hunger Free New Jersey, CFA’s statewide program, advocates on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable residents of our State by educating the public and policy makers on critical issues affecting NJ’s low-income residents.

How does CFA determine who receives services?

CFA distributes approximately 4,600 need based emergency food packages monthly.  We review each client’s financial situation but because of the nuances of need, a person may have had a good income last year, but has recently lost their job and are temporarily left without resources to feed themselves and in many cases, their family.  Our Homelessness Prevention services are administered based upon poverty level.

Our Homelessness Prevention services are administered based upon very specific poverty levels.  The poverty thresholds are the original version of the federal poverty measure.  They are updated each year by the Census Bureau.  The thresholds are used mainly for statistical purposes — for instance, preparing estimates of the number of Americans in poverty each year.  (In other words, all official poverty population figures are calculated using the poverty thresholds, not the guidelines.) Poverty thresholds since 1973 (and for selected earlier years) and weighted average poverty thresholds since 1959 are available on the Census Bureau’s website: US Census Bureau.

How is CFA funded?

CFA is funded by government grants, foundations, corporations and local businesses, religious organizations, civic groups, schools, and people just like you.

What's the best way to help end hunger and homelessness?

Do you want to help end hunger and homelessness?  It does take a village and we encourage everyone to make their voice heard by donating time and resources, sharing our information on social media platforms and learning where your state Senators and Representatives stand on the issues that impact the lives of those living in poverty.