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Hunger in today's New Jersey

As we observe longer lines in our food pantries and learn of food shortages and food deserts throughout our country and region, we need to find ways to address the systemic inequities that permeate throughout our communities. We are God’s hands in the world; it is ours to act to address food security for all community members.


What is Food Security?

Based on the 1996 World Food Summit [PDF], food security is defined when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

The four main dimensions of food security:

  • Physical availability of food
  • Economic and physical access to food
  • Food utilization in terms of preparation, diversity of food choices, and serving practices impact access to nutritious food
  • Stability of the other three dimensions over time

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. Even if food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have inadequate access to food on a periodic basis. Adverse weather conditions, political instability, or economic factors (unemployment, rising food prices) may have an impact on food security status.

How many people face this issue each day?

Each state is different. USDA State Fact Sheets indicate that food insecurity is not limited to region - it is systemic in both urban and rural areas throughout our country and in counties in our own diocese. Even a wealthy county like Bergen there are almost 74,000 people who struggle with hunger every day.

The faces of those experiencing food insecurity are not limited to the unemployed. In New Jersey, almost 44% of SNAP (food stamp) recipients live in working families.

The faces of those experiencing food insecurity vary based on ethnicity. Over the past 20 years, both Black and Hispanic households have consistently been at least twice as likely [PDF] as white households to experience food insecurity.

Government programs plan a large role in feeding people. Learn more about government programs that alleviate hunger.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helped 857,300 residents in NJ afford food in 2022. More than 63% of participants are in families with children, more than 47% are in families with members who are older adults or are disabled, and more than 44% are in working families. See: A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets (NJ)

What Does The Episcopal Church Say?

The General Convention has passed dozens of resolutions concerning and advocating study and action related to hunger and food security. Key resolutions include the following:

The Episcopal Church promotes Good News Gardens through Agrarian Ministries Creation Care initiatives. Learn more about Good News Gardens [PDF] and work in the Diocese of Newark.

Act – Get Involved

Systemic change starts locally. Get involved with a local pantry and meet the people they serve. There are many in our diocese who serve on the front lines every day.

Advocate for Change

But advocating for change will take changing policies. The work of advocacy within the Episcopal Church nationally falls under the Office of Government Relations (OGR) where you can sign up for action alerts and contact your elected officials on this issue. OGR posts numerous updates and action alerts under Ending Poverty Resources.

The Food Research and Action Network (FRAC)Feeding America, and Hunger Free New Jersey will also alert you to opportunities when your voice can make a difference.

And of course...


Gracious God, we recommit ourselves anew, this day
to provide food for hungry people, to speak out for them, and
to address the causes of hunger in our communities and in our world.
Give us strength to work together to create a just society
Where no one lacks the basic necessities of life.

Justice and Peace Commission
The Rev. Diane Riley, co-chair
Dr. Jody Caldwell, co-chair

Resource Date: 
Feb 14, 2023