4th Annual Bergen Pantry Food Pantry Summit Draws Representatives from 65+ Local Food Pantries and Service Providers

Paramus, NJ – The Bergen County Office of Food Security held its 4th Annual Bergen County Food Pantry Summit, drawing representatives from over 65 local food pantries and outside service providers to Bergen Community College for the event. Pantry directors had the opportunity to meet with their peers, and discuss successes, challenges, and best practices to help meet the needs of clients and fight food insecurity in our Bergen County Communities. 

"The 4th Annual Food Pantry Summit was our largest one yet and it shows the interest that our providers have to come together to discuss what each of them are seeing at their pantries. Food pantry directors and volunteers provide more than just food to our residents, they provide hope. They are on the frontlines on the fight against food insecurity." said Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III

The day started with a networking session for pantry directors, staff, and volunteers – as well as the opportunity to meet with service providers and learn about key services and programs ranging from a broad range of service delivery areas. Following remarks from CE Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, and video welcomes from US Senator Cory Booker, NJ Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Chair of the Assembly Committee on Food Security, Children and Families Asw. Shama Hader, OFS staff shared the results of its annual food pantry survey, which showed that level of need related to food insecurity remains high in our communities – with 74% of Bergen County pantries experiencing an increase in clients since 2023, and on average client rosters increasing by 26%. The Summit featured presentations from New Jersey Office of Food Security Advocate Executive Director Mark Dinglasan, as well as a panel discussion from The Collaborative for Organization Change founding partner Liz Corsini and Center for Food Action Executive Director Nicole Davis on how to form and effectively work with non-profit boards. 

"With the demand at our pantries still increasing, collaboration is more important than ever! The summit was a crucial day for us to learn from each other and strategize together on improving health outcomes, raising awareness to the need, and increasing our impact as we treat our neighbors with dignity. Conversations like these will strengthen our ability to connect pantry clients to County services so we can truly make strides to end hunger in Bergen County," said Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Silna Zur. 

Attendees participated in a breakout session to help forge closer relationships with their peers from across the county and discuss the shared challenges they face as well as best practices to overcome them. Some of the innovate ideas that came out of the session included allowing food donations at local libraries as an alternate to late fees, using social media and other non-traditional methods to better conduct outreach and inform residents the most needed items for donation, and finding ways to bring services directly to pantry clients on site. In the end, the connections made and relationships formed at today’s summit will help strengthen Bergen County’s network of pantries and emergency food providers – and help them continue to meet the food insecurity needs in our communities.

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