Back-to-School School Supply Drive


Now more than ever, let’s continue to help children in need start the school year off right. Our goal is to supply 150 children with school supplies and backpacks to begin a successful school year. Items donated benefit the children of JFCS pantry and partner agency clients in greater Mercer County. We are looking for pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, backpacks, etc.

3 Ways to Donate

  1. Order and ship supplies from your website of choice to 707 Alexander Road, Suite 102, Princeton NJ 08540
  2. Drop off items in our donation bin inside the front door of: 707 Alexander Road, Suite 102, Princeton NJ 08540
  3. Purchase an gift card for us and we’ll take care of the shopping for you!

Consider purchasing a backpack bundle to help us reach our goal:

Award and Scholarship Opportunities

Dr. Esther Wollin Memorial Scholarship

The Dr. Esther Wollin Memorial Scholarship Fund offers a scholarship opportunity available to Jewish female students who reside in the Princeton Mercer Bucks community.  Monies from Dr. Wollin’s estate were designated to grant a college scholarship to eligible Jewish female full-time students who will be or are already attending Rutgers University and raised by their Jewish mother in a single-parent household in the Princeton Mercer Bucks Community.  Eligibility is based on financial need.

Submission Deadline: June 3, 2024

Click here to apply

For more information, contact Joyce at or call 609-987-8100 ext. 201.


Addressing the Silent Epidemic: Food Insecurity in Mercer County

Guest Op-Ed Published in The Trentonian November 21, 2023

In the heart of New Jersey lies a shadowed reality that often goes unnoticed amidst our thriving communities—the silent epidemic of food insecurity. Mercer County, a region known for its cultural diversity and economic vitality, faces an escalating crisis that demands immediate attention.

As the Covid pandemic recedes, we are seeing the rapid spread of food insecurity across our region. Amidst our picturesque landscapes and vibrant neighborhoods, thousands of families grapple with the uncertainty of their next meal. Food insecurity, a multifaceted issue, extends its reach into the lives of increasing numbers of the vulnerable—the elderly, children, and working-class families struggling to make ends meet.

The magnitude of this crisis has been exacerbated by recent events, including soaring living costs, the end of pandemic relief programs, a lack of affordable housing, and unforeseen challenges facing many families.

Statistics paint a stark reality. Over 10% of Mercer County residents are food insecure, and they live in every part of our county. That means there is a 100% chance that someone who is hungry is your neighbor. The problem is even more acute in places like our Capital City where 27% of Trenton residents – and 37% of Trenton children – are living below the poverty line.

The face of hunger reflects the full range of diversity in our County. It’s children in our classrooms, unable to concentrate due to an empty stomach. It’s hardworking parents juggling bills and groceries, forced to make agonizing choices between nutrition and other necessities. It’s far too many senior citizens quietly battling hunger while living on a fixed income. These faces are more than just statistics. They are our neighbors, our family members, and our future.

The recent growth in food insecurity in Mercer County is unprecedented. Our organizations have been combatting food insecurity in Mercer County for decades, and we have never seen as many people seeking food assistance as we have in recent months. It’s traditional to focus concern on hunger at this time of year, but this is a continuing challenge that will be with us long after the holidays are over. Food insecurity like the chronic health conditions it can cause, has become chronic.

Our organizations are at the forefront of this crisis, attempting to meet the increasing need with dignity and compassion. Through our experience, we know what works. Our organizations offer nourishment, both through hot meals and food assistance. We provide pathways to self-sufficiency through education, housing, and workforce development. We measure our success not by the number of meals we serve or the amount of food assistance we provide, but by the number of people who no longer need our services.

New Jersey has taken important steps to support those facing hunger, including increasing benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), expanding food assistance programs, and creating the Office of the Food Security Advocate. We are grateful for this leadership by the State to address food insecurity.

The surging demand across Mercer County is outpacing these resources, highlighting the need for a comprehensive, community-driven approach. Our organizations have committed to work collaboratively to empower our communities and advance equity to reduce food insecurity throughout Mercer County. Only by developing a shared strategy and working in alignment can we achieve this ambitious goal. We hope to enlist support from corporate partners, foundations, and the broader community to invest in these innovative efforts.

The time to act is now. Mercer County is at a crossroads, and our response will define the future and the collective values of our community. The fight against food insecurity is not insurmountable but requires our unwavering commitment and concerted efforts.

That is why our organizations have pledged to work together to address this critical issue.  By standing together, advocating for change, and extending a hand to those in need, we can create a brighter, more nourished tomorrow for all.


Joyce E. Campbell, CEO of Trenton Area Soup Kitchen

Bernie Flynn, CEO of Mercer Street Friends

David Fox, Executive Director of Arm in Arm

Michelle Napell, Executive Director of Jewish Family & Children’s Services

Sarah Steward, CEO of HomeFront

Barrett Young, CEO of Rescue Mission of Trenton

2023 Annual Meeting, Mobilize for Broader Impact

Last night, JFCS was thrilled to host our 86th Annual Meeting, open to the community. We thank those who joined us in person to hear about our achievements of our past year, celebrate volunteers & community partners, and learn what is next for JFCS.

As we shared at the meeting, JFCS has adopted a five year strategic plan. In the next several years, our agency will Mobilize for Broader Impact.

The plan’s goals include…

Make JFCS services more readily accessible throughout the community.

Our mobile food pantry has demonstrated how important it is to bring vital resources directly to those who need help. Our goal encompasses the vision to bring our mental health and senior services out into the community. This includes establishing partnerships with area schools – to better reach youth with mental health resources; and having our care managers available at convenient locations for seniors, such as libraries and community centers.

Increase community participation and support.

We aim to increase participation with a wider network of individual and corporate volunteers and within our own Jewish community. 

Strengthen agency infrastructure to support strategic goals.

More than our physical space, JFCS recognizes that our staff is the heart of the organization. They proved they can deliver high-quality services, even when we were all working remotely. As we move forward, we will be investing in our team with increased education, professional development, and expansion.

We are looking forward to the journey and hope you join us in this next chapter. 


MAKE A DONATION TODAY– your gifts help us keep moving forward, together, and serving our community with Help, Hope & Healing.

GIVE THE GIFT OF YOUR TIME– volunteer, organize a food drive, learn how to become involved.

Thank you for being a part of the JFCS family.


Gemilut Chasadim Award Winners:
Fran and Matt Litchtenstein

Tzedakah Award Winner:
Susan & Fred Shandell

Kehillah Award Winner:
Mercer Street Friends

Gil Gordon Leadership and Volunteerism Award:
Ted Deutsch

8th Grade Mensch-in-Training: Mikaela Senders 12th Grade Mensch Award Winners: Cayla Lemkin Sam Winn

5 Year Anniversary
Shirley Bellardo, LCSW, LCADC and Helaine Isaacs

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. If you or someone you know needs help dial 988 for Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) If the danger for self-harm seems immediate, call 911 right away. 

  • Talk to others and share your problems with a trained therapist, friend or doctor
  • Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue dial 988 for more help.
  • Monitor what children see and hear about stressful events in their lives
  • Listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings
  • Be on alert for any behavior changes
  • Reassure your child about their safety and well-being
  • Talk to other parents in the community and use them as support
  • Taking breaks from the news, social media can help calm down
  • Use self-care strategies such as healthy eating, getting proper sleep and exercise
  • Get involved in the community to prevent isolation
  • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco and substance use

Tips for Parents to Focus on Kids’ Mental Health as They Head Back to School

Sometimes new routines and new schedules can exacerbate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This can be common when children and teenagers experience a change in their routines.

What are some ways to address these changes? 

For parents of small children, some ways to help your child’s back to school anxiety may include using a calm voice to reassure that their child is safe and protected. In addition, reinforcing routines can be helpful such as setting a realistic bedtime and selecting the next day’s clothes to wear. Arranging playdates with a familiar peer before school starts may help to lessen the anxiety.

For teens that are expressing anxiety about going back to school, listening to them can play an important role in supporting their mental and physical health. In addition, practicing breathing techniques can reduce stress. This can be taught by inhaling slowly through the nose, holding the breath for a count of four and then exhaling slowly.

If children or teens are experiencing ongoing anxiety, panic attacks or refusing to go to school, additional mental health support may be needed. A trained mental health professional can help your child or teen understand the root causes of the anxiety and help with coping skills.

Make sure you take your mental health and your child or teens mental health seriously.

by Elana Silverberg, MSW Intern

To speak with a member of our team, call 609-987-8100 or e-mail