Twenty months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, places dedicated to feeding the hungry are still not seeing demand slowing in Garden State.
In fact, the need for food among New Jersey families may increase even more as the winter months approach.
“We expect food needs to increase this winter, after the freeze on rents and utilities ends, and now that federal UI benefits have ended,” said Jim Kroeze, co-CEO Acting of Fulfill, which serves families in Monmouth and Ocean counties. .
Some low- and moderate-income households are protected from eviction for unpaid rent until the end of 2021. Utility companies can shut down services from January 1.
âPlus, the pandemic has left us with high prices at the grocery store, and incomes just don’t stretch like they used to,â Kroeze said.
Before the pandemic, according to Kroeze, Fulfill fed about 136,000 people. Today, the count stands at 215,000, including 70,000 children.
The association has a network of 289 pantries and offers a drive-through distribution every Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in its establishment in Neptune.
âIt has now grown to around 135 cars every Friday,â Kroeze said. âSadly, we don’t see an end in sight for the Jersey Shore food needs.â
Due to what should be a demanding winter, food banks in New Jersey are seeking public assistance in the form of volunteer hours or money for meals.
Food is flowing as fast as it arrives for the New Jersey Community FoodBank, according to President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez. Last year, CFBNJ provided enough food for 84 million meals. The number could rise to 93 million this year.
âThe demand is still high,â Rodriguez said. “Many families are still grappling with the economic impact of this pandemic, and the uncertainty also remains high.”
For people trying to âget out of debt and get back on their feet,â Rodriguez said, price increases at the supermarket are a big challenge. Supply does not catch up with demand for many products.
In preparing for the holidays, CFBNJ pays about 35 cents more per pound for the turkeys. CFBNJ is buying more products than ever, at higher prices, Rodriguez said.
âIt really makes the management and the future difficult,â Rodriguez said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]
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