According to area food pantries that serve the poor, an increasing number of working poor and middle class families are coming to their doors needing help. That makes the 22nd annual Action Against Hunger Food Drive so important, organizers say.
The yearly event, the brainchild of the North Jersey Media Group, takes place Sunday, Oct. 6 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Hackettstown A&P, 7 Naughtright Road. Those behind the effort say the drive is essential to replenish food pantry shelves before winter sets in.
Organizers say that because of the slow economic recovery, the outlook for many families is not improving. Some households are still picking up the pieces from last year's Superstorm Sandy, and federal assistance programs are slated to be cut this November.
Advocates for Children of New Jersey estimates the number of kids living in families receiving food stamps last year was up 80 percent to a whopping 396,000.
In 2013, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, nearly a million struggling New Jersey residents will lose their food stamp benefits in November.
“We know that more than 1.2 million people in New Jersey, including almost 400,000 children, are facing hunger," said Kathleen DiChiara, president and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. With so much need all around us, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and our more than 1,100 partner agencies applaud Action Against Hunger for helping get food to our hungry neighbors, and for raising awareness about the dire circumstances for so many hard-working families across the state.”
Local emergency food providers include Community FoodBank of NJ, Center for Food Action, Bergen County; CUMAC/ECHO, Passaic County; MEND, Essex County; and the Interfaith Food Pantry, Morris County.
To help, monetary donations and food contributions can be made at more than 100 locations across northern New Jersey, including most local supermarkets. Donations can also be made online and locations can be found at ActionAgainstHunger.com.
The most-needed items include nonperishable nutritious foods such as canned vegetables, meats, fish and fruits; hearty soups and stews; pasta; white and brown rice; peanut butter; enriched cereals; oatmeal, pancake mix, and powdered or evaporated milk; 100 percent fruit juice; baby formula; and low-sugar and low-sodium foods for those with special dietary needs. Organizers request that no glass containers or outdated items be donated.
And if you can give cash, organizers said it is particularly helpful because food pantries buy in bulk. The Community FoodBank of NJ reports that for every $1 in its operating budget, it can provide close to $10 in food for hungry people. Contributions can be made online or mailed to North Jersey Media Group Foundation, c/o Legal Department, P.O. Box 75, Hackensack, NJ 07602-9192. One hundred percent of all donations go to those in need. For more information about the drive, drop-off sites and how you can help, please visit www.ActionAgainstHunger.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-569-7683.