Project Self-Sufficiency received a helping hand from New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Murphy on Thursday as the agency continued to address the overwhelming need for food among Sussex and Warren County residents as a result of the ongoing public health crisis.
Murphy helped assemble food bags for needy families, toured the agency’s campus, visited with students in the New Jersey Youth Corps program, and was treated to a rousing performance by youngsters in the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center. The visit to Project Self-Sufficiency was planned as part of the First Lady’s targeted effort to highlight and support non-profit agencies across the state which have provided essential resources to the state’s most vulnerable populations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Project Self-Sufficiency has kept its doors open to serve area residents since the onset of the pandemic in the spring. The agency quickly pivoted to offer virtual programming for individuals and families but kept the food pantry open to offer free food to those in need. Between April 1st – August 31st, Project Self-Sufficiency served almost 5,000 individuals, providing nearly 70,000 meals, and distributing approximately 20,000 bags of food.
“We are honored to have hosted First Lady Tammy Murphy today. Like many organizations, Project Self-Sufficiency has always relied on the dedication of volunteers to fulfill our mission and at no time has this been more evident than during the last 6 months,” remarked Project Self-Sufficiency Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon. “Volunteers have conducted food drives, local businesses have stepped up with funding, and we have been fortunate to secure support from hundreds of individuals so that we can meet this unprecedented need in our community. We are humbled and inspired by the support we have received.”
In addition to providing record amounts of food to local families, Project Self-Sufficiency maintained a full caseload of clients, helping more than 2,000 individuals with family support and case management services, offering virtual home visits to more than 800 pregnant women and parents of young children, and fielding nearly 1,300 phone requests for services through its Central Intake program. The New Jersey Youth Corps program for high school drop-outs has run throughout the spring and summer, and just kicked off a new cohort in August. The Little Sprouts Early Learning Center was re-opened on July 6th and is offering childcare and preschool programs for up to fifty infants and children.
“From the onset of this pandemic, New Jerseyans have demonstrated a remarkable sense of commitment to the wellbeing of the most vulnerable populations within our communities,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “By redoubling their efforts to support working families, Project Self-Sufficiency is yet another example of the resiliency and compassion that has helped uplift so many throughout our state during this difficult time.”
The Food Project, Nourishing our Neighbors, continues to feed an unprecedented number of individuals and families. During recent months, funding and food donations have been received from numerous foundations, small and large businesses, and hundreds of individuals. Crucial support has been received from the Albertson’s Foundation; The Ellman Discovery Foundation; Jim and Dolores Fernandez; First Hope Bank; Franklin Mutual Insurance Company; Keystone Plastics; Lakeland Bank; the Lipka family; Mercedes Benz of Newton; Gregory and Susan Murphy; Lorraine and Tim Parker; the Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation; the Post Foundation; the Sandy Hill Foundation; Shop Rite Partners in Caring; Sussex Honda; and countless other generous individuals, corporations and businesses.
In addition to monetary donations to purchase food, the agency is always in need of non-perishable items such as canned soups and stews; canned fruits and vegetables; fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables; frozen meals; coffee; tuna; pastas and sauces; peanut butter and jelly; toothpaste; shampoos and conditioners; hair care products; skin care products; laundry detergents; diapers and baby wipes; toilet tissue; facial tissue; and feminine hygiene products.
Those who are interested in accessing The Food Project: Nourishing Our Neighbors at Project Self-Sufficiency are invited to visit the campus, 127 Mill Street, Newton or call the agency, 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500. Monetary and food donations will be gratefully accepted at the agency Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Monetary donations can also be made at www.projectselfsufficiency.org.