Greater Bergen Nutrition Department Gleans to Combat Food Insecurity
Increased food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is a national crisis which, based on statistics, will only worsen in the coming years. The USDA defines food insecurity as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
According to Feeding America, prior to COVID-19, at least 1 in 14 residents in Bergen County were experiencing food insecurity. However, recent surveys suggest that in a single week in Bergen County, up to 20,000+ people will rely on donated food.
As a northern NJ antipoverty agency, Greater Bergen has begun a Gleaning initiative as an additional means of addressing the causes and conditions of persistent economic insecurity in the communities we serve. Gleaning, as defined by the USDA, is simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.
This Gleaning initiative is currently fulfilled through our partnership with the New Jersey food bank in Hillside. We’re able to leverage resources in our Food and Nutrition Department, including our certified, knowledgeable staff and refrigerated truck, in order to glean from the Wanaque or Wyckoff Stop and Shops once a week.
To date, we have gleaned 1,748 pounds of food that we have provided to our Bergen County, Jersey City and Paterson Head Start families, as well as our clients in LADDER and PHASES.