TRENTON – This year, New Jersey taxpayers have the opportunity to donate a portion of their 2010 income tax refund or make a donation to the Community Food Pantry Fund, through a check-off contribution on state income tax forms.
“With a large increase in the number of people seeking food assistance from our state’s network of food pantries in the last couple of years, we are looking for every possible avenue to ensure that there is enough food for those who need it,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “Working with the Division of Taxation, this new taxpayer-donated fund has the ability to raise a good deal of money to supplement our state efforts to supply nutritious food to the needy.”
Gov. Chris Christie and the State Legislature allocated $6,818,000 for the current fiscal year’s New Jersey Department of Agriculture State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). The money is distributed quarterly to the state’s six food banks for the purchase of healthy foods, with an emphasis on buying produce from New Jersey farmers. The SFPP is in its fourth year.
”With these payment options, taxpayers who want to support the vital work of food pantries around the state will now be able to do so in a very convenient way,” said New Jersey State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff.
The Community Food Pantry Fund check-off box can be found on the 2010 Form NJ-1040 tax return on Line Item #63 “Other Designated Contribution.” It is the ninth fund donation item, listed between NJ Veterans Haven Support Fund and Cat and Dog Spayed/Neuter Fund.
Money collected for the fund, to be administered by the Department of Agriculture, will be used exclusively for food purchases and will be distributed only to eligible or current NJDA-contracted emergency feeding operations through the State Food Purchase Program. In addition to the SFPP, the Department also distributes United States Department of Agriculture-donated food to the six food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
In the 2006 Hunger Prevention Advisory Committee’s (HPAC) report to the New Jersey Legislature, the committee identified a need for an on-going funding stream to assist with the acquisition of emergency food to enhance New Jersey’s emergency food provider system. This system includes the food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. The report recommended creating of a check-off box on state income tax returns as a means to fund emergency food.
“We’ve seen great generosity from New Jersey’s residents during this difficult economic time,” said Gina Williams Deas, HPAC Chairperson. “This check-off box makes it easy for people to donate a portion of their tax refund to the emergency food provider system. We are so pleased that this opportunity will be available this tax season.”
Deas said the need for emergency food has increased approximately 30 percent through this recession.
Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez thanked all who worked on this effort — the state Legislature, the state departments of Treasury and Agriculture and the HPAC for all of their efforts on behalf of New Jerseyans who are food insecure.
“There’s a growing population of financially and food-insecure families in New Jersey,” said Velez, whose department administers entitlement benefits to income-eligible residents. “We know the food banks are under pressure to keep a ready inventory. This tax form check-off will allow many more individuals and families to be served.”
In 2006, the 12 charitable funds included on the state tax forms collected a total of $872,251.
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