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Center For Food Action

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CFA staffers and volunteers make a meaningful impact on many low-income residents of northern New Jersey by offering food, rental assistance, utility bill support, counseling services, and advocacy support.

Gray skies and the coronavirus pandemic have not stopped them from contacting their neighbors; they work at a different pace.

About CFA

Center for Food Action is a nonprofit that offers emergency services such as food, housing, utility, and heating assistance in Northern New Jersey. CFA provides aid to thousands of individuals and families annually through programs like emergency food packages, rental/utility assistance, counseling, and advocacy services. Funding for the organization comes from donations made by individuals, religious groups, civic organizations, schools, scouts, local businesses, and corporate sponsors. A significant amount of food is also purchased annually to supplement community donations; such purchases may include fresh produce, meats, low-sugar foods, low-salt and kosher options, and delicious soups.

CFA also works to prevent homelessness and utility disconnection by paying security deposits for apartments and utility and heating oil bills for those in need. Utilizing both public and private funding streams, staff meet with households to determine eligibility, work with landlords to prevent evictions/foreclosure, assist in finding alternative housing solutions, and make payments on behalf of families to their utility and heating oil companies.

CFA has an incredible staff and volunteers who care deeply for those in their communities who need assistance and change lives daily. When we started Companion Animal Advocates to deliver pet food directly to CFA clients in Mahwah and Elmwood Park every month, they weren’t sure how many owned pets, yet their response was incredible!

Weekend Snack Pack Program

Children receiving free and reduced-price school meals often struggle to have sufficient food during weekends and holiday breaks, leaving many in need of healthy, kid-friendly snacks in their absence. Our weekend snack pack program can help by offering packs filled with kid-friendly foods to serve these young people’s dietary gaps.

At the beginning of each school year, counselors from schools within Monona Grove’s district collaborate to identify students eligible to receive weekly Snack Packs from volunteers. Volunteers then shop for food at a nearby site before discreetly delivering these packs to participating children’s schools and stowing them away in backpacks without alerting either parent or caregiver of their arrival.

Each Snack Pack provides two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, and one healthy beverage for kids to enjoy during their school day. Such items include instant oatmeal, macaroni, cheese, soup, individual cereal boxes, granola bars, Goldfish crackers, applesauce, or Veggie Straws. They’re packaged in small disposable bags that children can open independently without assistance from an adult present.

CFA’s dedicated staff, volunteers, and generous supporters strive to make a difference in the lives of those they serve. Beyond providing emergency food packages, the organization also offers rental, utility, heating oil assistance, and counseling/advocacy services.

Food Drives

CFA uses funds from the community to deliver 7-day food packages to low-income residents of Hackensack, Mahwah, and Saddle Brook, as well as Bergen Community College in Paramus. Most food comes from donations by individuals, religious and civic groups, schools, and local businesses, as well as government commodity programs; CFA purchases additional meals as needed, such as fresh produce, meats, milk, and eggs – as well as low sugar/low salt/gluten-free/kosher and ethnic products to supplement what’s already supplied to each resident.

Volunteers work diligently to gather, sort, and package weekend snack packs for children who might otherwise go hungry over the weekend. These packs are discreetly distributed to participating elementary schools several times every month; church or charity groups are welcome to host food drives to support this vital service.

CFA staff and volunteers collaborate with clients to achieve housing, employment, and self-sufficiency goals – such as security deposits or cash grants to cover rent payments, making payments directly to heat/utilities providers, or helping secure resident food stamps cards.

Volunteer Opportunities

Location(s): New York City

Established during the pandemic, this organization collaborates with local restaurants to deliver their extra food to Queens’s food pantries and soup kitchens. They also operate a year-round fresh food box subscription service for low-income households across Queens. Volunteers are needed to assist their efforts by delivering meals or groceries directly, helping in the kitchen, socializing with seniors, or doing administrative tasks in their office.

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses an online platform to connect community volunteers with restaurants, hotels, and caterers that donate food. Volunteers then cart it from its source directly to its destination pantry or soup kitchen using data they collect to reduce food waste.

Established in 1976, this nonprofit provides food, housing, utility, and heating assistance to low-income residents of northern New Jersey. They also offer advocacy and counseling services. Volunteers are needed to sort and repackage food donations, prepare meals, deliver items to recipients, and assist with office tasks and fundraisers; long-term professionals with expertise such as computer training can be hired long-term in addition to long-term volunteers to perform other vital duties, including computer training or accounting duties. Donations come from all parts of society while their volunteer program runs from spring until fall – college interns can also sign up.