CFBNJ’s Food Sourcing team is responsible for procuring the food that we distribute to our neighbors in need through donations, purchases, and government programs. We partner with supermarkets, corporations, distributors, farms, manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation companies, and non-supermarket retailers – just to name a few.
Beginning this year, the team’s efforts will be bigger and more strategic than ever before. A data-driven approach will ensure optimal decision-making, while new partnerships will allow us to get food from diverse places. This all contributes to CFBNJ’s goal of providing 93 million nutritious meals this year.
One way that we’re working to obtain fresh produce, as we seek to address hunger as a health issue, is by partnering with more New Jersey farms. During the growing and picking seasons last year, one of our Food Sourcing Coordinators made dozens of visits to farms to seek out partnerships and donations. Ultimately, CFBNJ hopes to have a dedicated field at a partner farm, where we will grow and pick our very own fruits and vegetables.
To provide our neighbors with more healthy proteins, too, we are working to commence a seafood gleaning program to reduce waste of bycatch. Instead of being tossed, fish that are caught unintentionally and can’t be sold will be given to CFBNJ. New ports have recently been added to this program, which has proven successful at other New Jersey food banks.
We have also initiated a partnership with the Frontline Appreciation Group, a small nonprofit with the original purpose of serving frontline workers during the pandemic by purchasing meals from restaurants. Recently, they’ve changed their model to focus instead on neighbors in need, working with CFBNJ to connect soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community organizations with participating restaurants. Since August, this partnership has enabled us to feed hungry families while supporting struggling businesses.
Central to our food sourcing efforts is a focus on efficiency. Through our Enabled Agency program, CFBNJ manages relationships to facilitate direct delivery of food from retail stores to community partners. This helps organizations get the food that they need fresher and faster, while reducing the number of pickups and deliveries that CFBNJ must make. Currently, 137 community partners participate in the program, which provides an average of 27,000 pounds of food daily. This year, our goal is to provide 13 million pounds of food total through the Enabled Agency program.
And to increase efficiency and maintain all of these incredible partnerships, CFBNJ has expanded its Food Sourcing team over the past year and half from five employees to 14. With new roles and division of responsibilities, we can continue to source and distribute more food than ever before!