New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says his administration is committed to fighting food insecurity as demand at food banks rises amid inflation and people continue to recover from the pandemic.
On WNYC’s "Ask Governor Murphy" Wednesday night, Murphy said this year’s budget included $85 million to fund the state’s six largest food banks.
“We had a food insecurity challenge before COVID, it got a lot worse. I’m not sure it’s gotten better, but just as people were getting back on their feet at least to some extent, you’ve now got inflation, affordability challenges, interest rates going up, so our food banks are back to being as busy as they’ve been,” Murphy said.
He added that New Jersey was the first state to create a food security advocate position. Mark Dinglasan, who previously worked at an anti-hunger organization in Passaic County, started the job earlier this year.
The state is also continuing to fund its Sustain and Serve program, which funds nonprofits that provide food. They, in turn, purchase meals from struggling restaurants to feed residents in need. The program was a lifeline to restaurants during the pandemic and later during the peak of inflation.
Murphy said the program has provided 3.7 million meals.
“You had restaurants that were going out of business,” he said. “At the other end of the spectrum you had people who didn’t know where to turn to get their next meal so this Sustain and Serve NJ program stood in the middle. It basically was the middleman keeping the restaurants open, cooking the meals and delivering food and meals to folks who were desperate for them.”