Beginning in October 2022, Interfaith Neighbors organized a collaboration amongst a network of area food pantries and local farmers called the Community Food Connection. The mission of the Community Food Connection, a community-led coalition, is to work passionately to shift the power, health, and wealth of historically marginalized communities by developing community-driven solutions to inequities within the Monmouth County NJ regional food system.
In May 2022, we took the bold step of creating our Farm to Food Pantry Initiative. This 25-week initiative focused on providing free, seasonal, farm-fresh produce to 200 families each day of the week through a network of 12 participating food pantries, plus the Asbury Park Senior Center, Asbury Towers, Asbury Park Housing Authority Robinson Towers, and the Monmouth County Boys & Girls Club. Our beautiful, chemical-free seasonal produce is grown by Fernbrook Farms, a 5th generation farm family near Chesterfield, NJ.
This year—2023—will see an expected growth in families served each week from 200 to 400 families, and from 11 to 17 sites covering a broader area of Monmouth County, including Red Bank, Long Branch, and Lincroft.
The Community Food Connection is the first ever Asbury Park area food pantry coalition, and is driven by the leadership of the members. The power of this collaboration lies in our decision and ability to collaborate to end nutritional insecurity in our community.
2023 Pick Up Locations include:
Oceans FSC,@ APHA Robinson Towers 1000 1/2 Third Ave, Asbury Park, Mondays, 10:00 AM (residents only).
Trinity Church, 503 Asbury Ave, Asbury Park, Tuesdays, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM.
Asbury Park Senior Center, 1201 Springwood Ave, Asbury Park, Fridays, 10-10:30 AM (Not open to the general public).
People’s Pantry @ Mount Carmel Church, 1143 Pine St., Asbury Park, 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 4:00-6:30 PM.
Brookdale Community College Helping Hands, Parking Lot 3, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, Every Third Tuesday, 11:30 to 1:00 PM.
Ezekiel’s Wheels, Rotates between Kennedy Towers, Chester A. Arthur, and Hobart Manor, Long Branch, Wednesday’s 1:00-3:00 PM.
Lunch Break, Various locations in Red bank, Eatontown, Tinton Falls, and Lincroft, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Bradley Food Pantry, 605 Fourth Ave, Bradley Beach, Wednesdays, 10:00 AM-Noon.
Monmouth County Boys & Girls Club, 1201 Monroe Ave, Asbury Park, Wednesdays, 4:00-5:30 PM.
Mercy Center, 1108 Main St, Asbury Park, Wednesdays, 9:30 AM-4:00 PM.
St. Vincent de Paul @ St. Peter Claver, 1419 Springwood Avenue, Every 2nd and 4th Thursdays 10:00 AM-1:00 PM.
Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 705 Summerfield Ave, Asbury Park, Fridays, 7:30-9:30 AM.
Asbury Towers, 1701 Ocean Ave. N. Asbury Park, Fridays 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (for residents only).
United Fellowship Baptist Church Manna Pantry, 603 Third Ave, Asbury Park, 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 9:30-11:00 AM.
St. Augustine Church, Atlantic & Prospect Ave, Asbury Park, 1st and 3rd Sundays, 9:30-11:30 AM.
New Hope Church of God, 200-206 Garfield Ave, Long Branch, 1st and 3rd Sundays, 7:45-9:45 AM.
The Rebirth Church Coop Pantry, 142 Dewitt Ave., Asbury Park, 2nd-5th Sundays, 12 Noon-2:00 PM.
Westside Community Center Historical Renovation Association, 115 Dewitt Ave., Asbury Park, 1st Sundays, 12 Noon-1:00 PM.
Other partners who distribute free, local, seasonal food include:
Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs, Sundays, 3:30 to 4:30 PM, AP Train Station
AP Community Farm, Saturdays, 9 AM, Bangs Avenue near the railroad tracks, Asbury Park
Other Collaborative Partners include: Asbury Park Food Collective, Kula Farm, Home Depot, Fresh Markets and SNAP with Asbury Fresh, Fernbrook Farms, Monmouth University Nest Food Pantry, Community Affairs Resource Center, and others.
Click here for curated recipes for the 2023 growing season:
With grants from the BHEC Initiative to “seed” the program, Interfaith Neighbors is seeking support from the broader community, inviting you to sponsor the cost of produce for an individual family. $250 will underwrite the cost of produce for a family for the entire season. $50 will support a family’s produce for one month. And $25 will cover the cost of produce for one family for two weeks. Whatever you are able to give will assist us in helping families live healthier lives.
Gifts of $50 or more will receive an all natural produce sling for shopping for your fresh produce as a token of our appreciation.
Food Insecurity in Asbury Park
Many individuals who frequent food pantries live below the poverty line and find it difficult to access federal food benefits and farm fresh produce. Under Interfaith Neighbors’ Building Healthier & More Equitable Communities Initiative (BHEC), our goal is to provide a consistent supply of fresh produce to families throughout the summer growing season.
According to a Center for Science in the Public Interest survey, 85 percent of food pantry families emphasized the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables over candy and soda. When children are introduced at a young age to farm-fresh produce, they tend to prefer the taste of fruits and vegetables to unhealthy options, are more willing to try different cuisines and have better life outcomes.
It is well known that unhealthy diets contribute to negative life outcomes, including impaired growth in children and chronic health conditions that lead to higher healthcare costs and missed days of work. In underinvested areas, individuals are most susceptible to hypertension, diabetes, cancer, stroke, obesity, and heart disease. These food-related illnesses are preventable through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, underscoring the need for increased access to a consistent supply of fresh food.
With the vast availability of processed foods, which are high in calories and low in nutritional content, as well as the absence of quality fresh produce, the Asbury Park community is facing food insecurity and a lack of nutritious options.
This initiative also supports New Jersey farms and helps ensure our resources stay local. It supports small-scale farms who struggle to compete within the commercial marketplace, and fosters a greater relationship with the food we consume and the farmers who grow it. All produce will be picked the morning prior to transport, providing a super-fresh and delicious option to participating families, who otherwise cannot afford this life-saving food.
During the 25-week initiative, participating local food pantries will receive a weekly produce drop, executed in partnership with Fernbrook Farms in Bordentown. Participating families will have access to farm tours and volunteer opportunities. Pantries will distribute healthy recipes along with fresh produce.
Please call BHEC Coordinator Karyn Moskowitz @ 502-475-8979 or email [email protected] for information on how to volunteer and with any other questions.
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