While food-insecurity rates have diminished since the height of the pandemic, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey continues to distribute more food than ever before—about 50% more during any given month than pre-pandemic levels.
About 800,000 people in the Garden State struggle with hunger, including approximately 200,000 children. Hunger impacts not only an individual’s physical well-being but also their mental health, especially as we navigate Covid-19.
According to Carlos M. Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), the fight against the pandemic’s economic impact is far from over. Says Rodriguez: “Many of our neighbors were forced to use up their savings or take out loans and may be struggling to pay their bills and keep food on the table. We all want to put the pandemic behind us and get back to some semblance of what we were used to before, but the unfortunate reality is that many families are going to be digging out of this financial crisis for a long time.”
According to Rodriguez, Black and Latino communities were disproportionately impacted by hunger even before the pandemic, and they continue to struggle with much higher rates of food insecurity. On the national level, Latino households experience roughly double the rate of food insecurity compared to white households, and Black households experience roughly triple the rate—a gap that continues to widen, according to recent data from the USDA.
In New Jersey, our South Jersey communities, particularly resort towns that rely on tourism during the summer months, are affected more by hunger, according to the CFBNJ.
Hunger is felt even more around the holidays, when food is such a big part of celebrating. People struggling to put food on the table may not have the funds needed to share special family meals. This reality causes additional stress.
So how can we help feed our neighbors in need? Rodriguez says one of the best ways to help is by giving funds: “Every $1 that someone donates provides three meals. Supporters can also volunteer their time in our warehouse, hold virtual or in-person food drives, and help spread the word about hunger in New Jersey and our mission.”
If you are looking to donate physical items to your local food pantry, healthy nonperishables are critically important. Items that CFBNJ’s partner pantries need most include canned proteins, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, rice and pasta.
One additional way that women can get involved is through CFBNJ’s Women Fighting Hunger program, which, among its projects, organizes statewide efforts to collect hygiene products and undertakes donor-engagement efforts. The program also provides participants with opportunities for personal growth through hands-on philanthropy and leadership experience.
There is a variety of ways people can get involved to combat food insecurity, not only around the holidays but year-round. Visit cfbnj.org to learn more.