With Thanksgiving coming up next week many New Jersey families will get together and enjoy a big home-cooked meal, but some Garden State residents won’t be able to, because they’re struggling to put enough food on the table every night.

According to Nicole Williams, the communications and public relations lead for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey inflation is forcing a growing number of people to seek food assistance.

She said when the COVID pandemic began in 2020 and people were losing their jobs there were long lines at food pantries but in terms of monthly demand “now things are even worse, it’s about a million pounds higher than it was at the height of the pandemic, that was when hunger was really in the news.”

Skipping Thanksgiving

She said people really want to have that special holiday meal to share with their families, but unfortunately for many that may not happen.

Williams said while the Community Food Bank has always had strong support from companies and individuals in Jersey, inflation is making getting supplies tougher and tougher.

“This year we paid roughly 40% more than is typical for turkeys and about 50% more for chicken roasters.”

She said food insecurity remains a significant issue in the Garden State, which means people “don’t know if they’ll always have enough money or resources to put meals on the table for themselves and their families, and it’s not just about having enough to eat, it’s about having enough nutritious food to eat.”

Concept image to illustrate harsh economic times
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She said the latest estimate according to the organization Feeding America is that there are at least 650,000 people who are food insecure in New Jersey, including 175,000 children, but the actual number is probably significantly higher.

How to help

She said the best way to help Community Food Bank of New Jersey is with a monetary donation “but people can also help by giving their time, by donating food, hosting food drives in their communities, coming in to volunteer.”

On November 19 and 20, the Community Food Bank annual turkey drive takes place.

“We’re going to be at nearly 70 sites across the state collecting donations of frozen turkeys and hams and chicken roasters:08 as well as other holiday non-perishables.”

You can find out more information or donate money, food or volunteer to help out on the Community Food Bank of New Jersey website.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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