Support provided by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2023 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) today announced the launch of the New Jersey Food Security Initiative (NJFSI), a collaboration of community organizations, local, and state agencies aimed at helping to end hunger and advance health equity in the state through innovative solutions. The effort is supported by a $4.5 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
“Hunger continues threatening the health and well-being of too many New Jerseyans. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated longstanding inequities,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC. “We look forward to working with our New Jersey partners across the state on a radically collaborative approach to harness the capabilities and sensitivities of stakeholders across the extensive food system. We are grateful for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for and support of this much-needed effort.”
Funding for NJFSI is part of RWJF’s commitment to addressing food insecurity and health inequity in New Jersey, building on other local and program-related investments to help finance more equitable access to healthier food retail options in under-resourced areas.
The initiative is inspired by FRAC’s Hunger and Its Solutions in New Jersey: Landscape Analysis of Current Initiatives, Recommended Action, and Emerging Opportunities for Further Investment, funded by RWJF. It analyzes food insecurity in New Jersey and details actionable recommendations to help stakeholders across the state mitigate hunger. This harsh reality underscores the urgency of this initiative, as well as the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) report findings revealing that 1 in 11 households in New Jersey experienced food insecurity on average from 2020-2022.
The initiative is intended to enhance cross-sector coordination, expand community outreach efforts, and prioritize client-centered communications to improve equitable access, awareness, and referrals to federal nutrition programs and other critical food security resources.
Food insecurity has serious negative impacts on health and well-being, learning and working. When we measure food insecurity, we are really talking about hunger and malnutrition. The New Jersey Food Security Initiative aims to address this by increasing equitable access to healthy food for New Jersey families.
“This initiative is designed with input from people with lived food insecurity experience. State groups and public agencies have long been committed to addressing this major social determinant of health,” said Marco Navarro, RWJF senior program officer. “Our aim is supporting New Jerseyans and fostering collaborations to advance our shared priorities and improve health equity in our home state of New Jersey.”
NJFSI also will focus on maximizing equitable food purchasing power and procurement systems. It aims to support community development initiatives that address the root causes of hunger. To ensure long-term success, NJFSI will help build essential infrastructure, paving the way for the capacity necessary to leverage current and emerging policy and program opportunities. This commitment focuses particularly on supporting under-resourced and historically marginalized communities.
To learn more about NJFSI, visit NJFSI.org.
About Food Research & Action Center
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have.