You have no doubt heard that more and more individuals and families are turning to government and community resources for support as we continue the slow economic recovery. It may surprise you to learn that food banks are reporting serving a whole new demographic: the college educated middle and working class family.
This is a national trend being seen across the country, and New Jersey is no exception. The Atlanticville highlighted the problem in December 2012, and we've summarized what they found below.
Who Needs Help
While the term “Food Bank” likely brings to mind images of poverty stricken individuals long out of work, Food Bank managers report that several of their clients are currently working; some of them even have two members of the family in jobs. What volunteers hear is that, after bills and gas costs, even working families still don’t have enough money left over for food. This is new for these veteran workers who have served the hungry for years.
The numbers are sobering. The Christians United for People (CUP) Food Pantry reports that their clients have increased from 40 to 217 in just three years. That’s more than a 400% increase. As The Altanticville article points out, these numbers only represent the individuals who actually go to the pantry and collect the food. Most of them have uncounted spouses and family members back home who also rely on the food they pick up. The New Jersey Federation of Food Banks also reports an increase of nearly 50% over the last four years in the amount of demand in the state for food assistance.
What Can You Do
The general rule is that during hard economic times, food banks see an increase in demand for food along with a decrease in donations. This makes sense; more families are trying to subside on less. This fact makes it all the more amazing that New Jersey is actually bucking this trend. Volunteers and administrators report that they have seen their food and money donations increase.
Not only are New Jersey residents giving more material goods, they are also donating more of their time. The Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts have worked several hours over the past few years collecting food and stocking the shelves. Then there are the larger corporations that chip in. +ShopRite, +Wegmans, +Target, and +Panera Bread have all worked with food pantries to help feed those in need.
If you would like to know more about how to help the hungry in your community, visit our website to get in touch with us.