NJ food banks face serious challenges as summer approaches

As we head into the summer months, approximately 800,000 New Jerseyans are food insecure, and food banks and pantries across the Garden State are struggling to keep up with the growing demand.

Karen Leies, vice president of resource development at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, said that with a fuel budget that has nearly doubled “and rising inflation prices on the cost of the food we buy , and ongoing supply chain issues all affect our ability to get food to those who need it.”

She noted that food and cash donations tend to dwindle when the weather warms up, and this year was no exception, making a difficult situation even more difficult.

“Summer is specifically the time of year when we see an increased need for food aid, when children are out of school they lose access to school meals that they and their families rely on.”

A difficult time

Triada Stampas, CEO and president of Fulfill, the food bank serving Monmouth and Ocean counties, said things are very difficult right now for her organization.

“We are facing unprecedented inflation in recent history, we are seeing the cost of fuel and the cost of food being just a double whammy,” she said.

Fill the truck

Photo courtesy of Fulfill

She pointed out that many of the assistance programs that started at the start of the pandemic have now ended, which has led to an increase in demand for food aid.

“You can’t skimp on food, you can’t skimp on paying your landlord rent, you can’t skimp on paying the utility company to keep the lights on,” she said. .

Supply chain issues persist

Leies pointed out that “food donations are down due to supply chain issues, so we’re buying more at a higher price and still running out of stock.

Stampas said there has also been a drop in volunteers and donations at Fulfill “from retailers, individuals due to both food costs and ongoing supply chain issues.”

She said it’s important to remember that “hunger is a year-round problem, and the need that exists in the summer is not matched by the donor interests that we see.”

A drop in donations

Leies said that during holidays and times of crisis, such as at the start of the pandemic, people are more inclined to help food organizations, but not at other times “and so it’s a little scary, it’s is a little worrying, the amount of need that we’re going to see increase as we head into summer, it’s going to continue to grow.

Stampas noted that food costs at the wholesale level are 33% higher this year compared to last year.

To learn more about Fulfill, you can visit fillnj.org

You can get more information about the Community Food Bank of New Jersey at cfbnj.org

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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