In response to the impacts of Tropical Storm Ida in September and in support of Duke Farms’ long partnership with Feeding Hands, Duke Farms announced that its parent organization, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, will provide a grant of $50,000 in general operating support to the local food pantry.
This funding will buoy Feeding Hands’ efforts to recover from the substantial operational and physical damage suffered by the organization due to the devastating storm and focus on its critical work serving communities in Somerset County, according to information provided by Duke Farms on Dec. 17.
Feeding Hands saw its operational headquarters completed wiped out by floodwater and mud caused by the deadly and highly destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that struck New Jersey in early September. The food pantry lost over $100,000 worth of food, all refrigeration and freezer equipment, as well as supplies for daily operations, according to the statement.
As many New Jerseyans continue to contend with the lingering aftermath of Ida, which brought record rainfall and flooding to Somerset County, Feed Hands services are more necessary than ever, according to the statement.
Prior to the financial and social instability resulting of the COVID pandemic, the organization served 3,100 families in Somerset County in 2019. Today, Feeding Hands feeds over 4,500 families.
“Duke Farms is proud to be in a position to help feed those in our community without access to fresh, healthy food, a gap that has only grown wider with the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida,” Margaret Waldock, executive director of Duke Farms, which is located in Hillsborough, said in the statement. “We are honored to help and find hope and inspiration from the land and each other during these challenging times.”
“We’re a national foundation, but we’re also part of a community,” Sam Gill, president of the Duke Farms Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said in the statement. “On behalf of Duke Farms, we’re proud to stand with Feeding Hands as they demonstrate their resilience and tenacity in serving this community.”
“All of those we serve at Feeding Hands are blessed by the relationship we have with Duke Farms Community Garden and the Duke Farms Agricultural Program,” Lois Bennett, the founder and executive director of Feeding Hands, said in the statement. “These organizations provide fresh organic produce, eggs, and meat to assist us in feeding those in need. Feeding Hands also shares their commitment to environmental stewardship working hard to ensure we keep waste from the landfills and employ an extensive recycling initiative while stewarding each dollar of community donations to bring the greatest good. We are truly grateful for this grant.”
Through the Duke Farms Community Garden and the Duke Farms Agricultural Program, Duke Farms and Feeding Hands have for more than seven years maintained a purposeful partnership, built on the common ground of their community-oriented missions to enrich the neighboring areas, and provide much-needed support, whether through food or nature, according to the statement.
The Duke Farms Community Garden has a robust donation program comprised of more than 500 Somerset County residents, providing food banks, including Feeding Hands, several thousands of pounds of produce each year. The Duke Farms Agricultural Program typically provides produce, eggs, and meat for the on-site farm-to-fork cafe.
Due to the fluctuations in the number of people visiting the café as a result the pandemic, along with an increase in food insecurity, the Agricultural Program decided to expand its support to Feeding Hands, according to the statement.
To learn more about Duke Farms and its programs, visit www.dukefarms.org.
To learn more about Feeding Hands, visit www.feedinghandspantry.org.