HACKENSACK, N.J. — The County of Bergen announces the formation of a new Task Force to tackle hunger and food insecurity issues affecting Bergen County residents. The Bergen County Food Security Task Force, which launches on July 15, aims to alleviate lingering effects of the COVID-19 global health crisis that have left many county residents struggling with financial hardship and food insecurity.
The Bergen County Food Security Task Force will bring together County advisors with non-profit partners to address food security issues on a regional scale. While Bergen County has more than 80 food pantries, and numerous other food initiatives have sprung up through the generosity of the community, many such local efforts have encountered issues with meeting an increased demand, difficulty in sourcing nutritious food products, and logistical issues due to social distancing guidelines.
“The Bergen County Food Security Task Force will serve as a critical matchmaker and facilitator, connecting local community-based food efforts with local food supplies to help overcome new hurdles brought on by COVID-19," said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco. “By taking a convening role to pull together stakeholders confronting hunger in their communities and using existing relationships with larger non-profits and private organizations, the County seeks to strengthen the food safety net that many residents are relying on.”
Freeholder Tracy S. Zur, who helped spearhead efforts to launch the Task Force, stressed the importance of the issue at hand.
“Food insecurity has been an issue that has affected every town in Bergen County. COVID-19 has only increased an existing need and put a spotlight on the struggles our residents are facing in the community” said Bergen County Freeholder Tracy S. Zur. “However, since COVID-19, over 10% of the County’s population is collecting unemployment, welfare applications have doubled, and food distribution sites across the County have seen a sizable spike in demand. Our fear is that as unemployment and other benefits expire, and as mortgage forbearance and temporary eviction protections come to an end, issues of food insecurity and economic hardship will only increase in the County.”
Freeholder Chairwoman Mary Amoroso applauded the decision and expressed her support for the formation of the Task Force.
“Good and generous people and organizations have risen to the challenge of providing food and supplies to rising numbers of residents who found themselves facing food insecurity during the pandemic,” said Freeholder Chairwoman Mary Amoroso. “This Task Force will mobilize those good people and organizations into a cohesive network, so that resources are maximized and deployed where they are needed and nobody falls through the cracks. I thank Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and Freeholder Tracy Zur for spearheading this initiative and look forward to working together with the Task Force.”
The Bergen County Food Security Task Force will hold their first meeting, virtually, on Wednesday, July 15. For more information about the Task Force or where to find available food resources, reach out to Marisa Tugultschinow at MTugultschinow@co.bergen.nj.us.