New Jersey food banks see increase in food insecurity as grocery prices increase
It is projected that 1 in 11 New Jersey residents struggle with food insecurities. And these numbers are increasing as the price of food goes up due to inflation.
But thankfully some of the food banks in the Garden State are stepping in to assist.
“It’s really a big help when you’re struggling,” says Jeremy Pappas, of Absecon.
Pappas says that he has turned to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Egg Harbor Township when his family needed help. This was after the cost of food went up 7%.
“If you’re going to the grocery store to get ground beef and it went up and if you decided you want to treat your family one night to steak or something like that, you can’t even afford to do it,” he says.
With the prices of food and even gasoline going up, many in the state say that they are feeling the pinch. This is where food banks like the Community Food Bank of New Jersey say they can help.
“Here at our community assistance pantry, anyone in need of emergency food assistance can come. No questions asked. And then upon coming here for emergency food, we would refer them to an agency partner or local distribution in their own backyard in their own neighborhood,” says Denise Hladun, director of external affairs at Community Food Bank.
Community Food Bank officials say they were helping 300-350 families per month before the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that this amount has more than doubled in the last two years.
“Families are challenged, you know? They have other financial obligations. Do we meet our rent or do we provide nutritious meals for our family?” Hladun says.
The Food Bank of South Jersey has also seen its numbers increase, according to officials. There is a 16% increase in need from January to February 2022.
Both agencies say that they want residents to know that they are available to provide help.
“People can come to us or any of our agency partners for assistance. It’s confidential and we would hope that they wouldn’t feel stigmatized,” Hladun says.
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey helps residents in 11 counties. Anyone interested should enter their ZIP code into the food bank’s website to find a local pantry.