BRIDGETON, N.J. — New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher on Wednesday joined volunteer staff at The Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Bridgeton to help serve Thanksgiving lunch to 100 area residents in need.
“Places and organizations like St. Vincent de Paul, soup kitchens and food pantries are vitally important to New Jersey families across the state who have fallen on hard times,” Secretary Fisher said. “We are reminded during the holiday season that hunger is a real issue in New Jersey. We encourage resident to help their neighbors by volunteering and donating now and throughout the year.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul operates out of The Parish of The Holy Cross at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Bridgeton. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a national organization that has been serving those in need since 1833. The Society has been a mainstay in the Bridgeton community for the last 45 years and serves lunch to more than 400 people every week.
St. Vincent de Paul receives donations from the public, different religious organizations, grants through government programs, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program and New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program.
The State Food Purchase Program provides $6.8 million a year to the state’s six contracted food banks to purchase healthy food with an emphasis on Jersey Fresh produce for distribution to their networks of food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters. TEFAP distributes U.S. Department of Agriculture foods and administrative funding to the food banks.
“It is organizations like St. Vincent de Paul that care for those in need that make Bridgeton such a great city,” said Bridgeton Mayor Al Kelly, who was also on hand to serve meals. “The great thing about this group and others we have in Bridgeton, is this is not just a holiday event, but something they do all year round.”
St. Vincent de Paul receives food from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which is one of the organizations supported by TEFAP and SFPP. The food provided through these programs includes poultry, pork, fish, fresh produce and other items. Marjorie Waselik, the treasurer at St. Vincent de Paul who operates the feeding program there, knows firsthand the importance of getting the needed assistance.
“The food we receive from the State and Federal government is a tremendous help,” Waselik said. “It is so much appreciated here.”
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture