As we get set to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, New Jersey hunger relief organizations are stepping up efforts to get supplies to needy people, which probably includes the community where you live.

According to Tristan Wallack, the director of food sourcing and distribution for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, there is an ongoing need for supplies.

Experts estimate that 900,000 people in the state are food insecure, meaning they are without reliable access to a sufficient amount of food or they don't know where their next meal is coming from. This includes about 1 in 7 children.

He said the Community FoodBank is constantly struggling to keep up with demand.

“Last year we distributed a little over 56 million pounds of food, which is the equivalent of around 47 million meals, but in actuality we probably need about twice the amount of volume to keep up with the need that’s out there.”

Wallack said with Thanksgiving coming up, they need turkeys, but they always accept canned tuna, shelf-stable milk, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables — and also diapers and hygiene and beauty products.

He said they expect to distribute 25,000 to 27, 000 turkeys over the next week and a half.

The Community FoodBank is the largest anti-hunger organization in the state, partnering with about a thousand groups.

After collecting food supplies, the organization distributed them to partner agencies such as soup kitchens, shelters and after-school programs.

Wallack said with Thanksgiving coming up, all Jersey residents should remember that the people who rely on feeding groups throughout the year are just like the rest of us.

“The reality is a lot of these people are working and they’re really struggling just to make ends meet," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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