By Hannah Keyes
The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank for Nutritional Health and Wellness is one of six food banks in the state of New Jersey. Established in 1987, the Food Bank secures and distributes food and provides related nutrition assistance to help ensure that citizens do not go hungry.
According to the Program Associate of Adult Hunger, Pamela Sims Jones, The Food Bank distributes USDA, state-purchased, and donated commodities to 48 member agencies within Mercer County. The 21 mobile pantry sites receive donated perishable and non- perishable items, and the 13 senior citizen housing sites receive designated USDA non-perishable commodities for the 520 Commodity Supplemental Food Program participants. Mercer Street Friends member agencies include a network of pantries, shelters, youth programs and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) and their sites.
“Mercer Street Friends is 61 years old and the Food Bank is 31 years old. With a staff of 9 and over 2,400 volunteers a year, the Food Bank distributes more than 4 million pounds of food a year,” stated Sims Jones.
Within this food distribution, the Food Bank has multiple programs seeking to help reduce hunger, such as “Send Hunger Packing,” a program that partners with local public schools and provides healthy kid-friendly food on Fridays for children who are at-risk for suffering from hunger so they can have meals to eat over the weekend. The Food Bank also provides breakfast and lunch for children facing meal gaps during the summer when they cannot get food from school. Additionally, there is a mobile pantry that delivers monthly meal boxes to around 200 low-income seniors.