October 15, 2009

Feeding America today announced that they have received a grant of $30,000 from BJ's Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of BJ's Wholesale Club. The funds will be used to increase the number of New Jersey residents enrolled in the Food Stamp program.

The funds will be divided among Feeding America's three network partners in New Jersey: The Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, the Food Bank of South Jersey in Pennsauken and the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in Neptune.

The three Feeding America food banks in New Jersey will use the donation to help fund their Food Stamp Outreach programs aimed at enrolling eligible nonparticipants, with a special emphasis on seniors and the working poor. Feeding America has already made a $50,000 donation for this outreach work in New Jersey.

The USDA estimates that only 67 percent of the people who are eligible for the food stamp program are currently receiving benefits, which means that more than 270,000 New Jersey residents who are eligible are not currently receiving food stamps. The Food Stamp Program is the only federal nutrition program that enables low-income Americans to secure food through normal business channels.

BJ's is the first retailer to donate funds to Feeding America that are specifically earmarked for Food Stamp Outreach. (The Food Stamp Program is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in most other states.)

"Far too many Americans – more than 35 million, including six million children – live at risk of hunger," said Maura Daly, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy for Feeding America."The Food Stamp Program is a vital resource for them, and it is imperative that we help get as many eligible Americans enrolled in the program as possible. Many people do not know that they qualify for the program, or they don't know how to enroll. This new funding from BJ's Charitable Foundation will help us enroll many people in the program who might otherwise find themselves on the brink of Hunger."

"BJ's recognized the diverse financial status and changing needs of Americans, and in April, we became the first wholesale club to expand our payment options by accepting government-issued food stamp benefits at all of our locations," said Jessica Newman, BJ's Manager of Community Relations."With 20 clubs in New Jersey, we are extremely proud to support Feeding America's efforts to enroll those eligible to receive such benefits as it will positively impact residents' ability to feed their families.

Feeding America is the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization. It provides more than 2.6 billion pounds of food annually through a network of 205 food banks that serve 63,000 food pantries, soup kitchen and other emergency feeding centers.

New Jersey is one of the first states to be selected by Feeding America to develop effective outreach strategies to increase food stamp participation. The other states selected for outreach in fiscal year 2010 are: California, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

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