One of the startling scenes from the past week were the lines that stretched as far as the eye could see for those looking for food to put on the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Food insecurity is being heightened as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Many North Jersey food banks and food providers have experienced an increase in demand since the pandemic started, up to 200% in some cases.
This is not just a local issue; nationwide, nearly 24 million Americans have reported food insecurity, an increase of 6 million people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan CARES Act provided $500 million for nutrition programs nationally for seniors, $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs, and $15 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The fact that there is no new federal aid coming is a scarlet letter for all those in Washington to wear, both Democrats and Republicans. We have criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell extensively for the inability to pass a bill. But equal blame should be placed on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump for being unable to reach a deal.
If President-elect Joe Biden is serious about healing this country and bringing a torn country back together, he should start by using his bully pulpit every day to drive home this message of getting back to the table to help everyday American navigate this crisis. And that includes members of his own party, publicly.
Because North Jersey, like the rest of America, needs healing now.
In a recent Zoom call with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Kelly Sirimoglu of the Center for Food Action noted her organization has experienced a 50% increase in food assistance requests in Bergen County during the pandemic.
“There is no way we could continue to distribute 1,000 food packages each week without the support of our community. Whether it is a donation of funds, food, or time, the people of northern New Jersey have made it possible for us to provide help to those in need,” said Sirimoglu.
The true greatness of America is its ability to come together to care for those who are in need. As Warren Buffet told U2’s lead singer Bono nearly 20 years ago, “Don’t appeal to the conscience of America. Appeal to the greatness of America and you’ll get the job done.”
We are appealing to the residents of North Jersey to come together like never before and support local charities feeding our fellow citizens. We know this has been a tough year, but we ask if there is a food drive being held by your school, local community group or faith organization, please be over generous this year. There is a real need and it will be the most rewarding gift you can give this holiday season.
To that end, North-JerseyNews.com is providing a partial list of food banks that could use your help in filling their pantries or volunteering your time:
Center for Food Action, Englewood and Hackensack. cfanj.org
The Bergen County Food Security Task Force. https://www.co.bergen.nj.us
Triboro Food Pantry, Park Ridge. www.triborofoodpantry.org.
Christ Episcopal Church in association with Tri-Arc Community Development Corp., Teaneck. christchurchteaneck.org
Hackensack Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hackensack. Hackensacknj.adventistchurch.org
Hasbrouck Heights Food Pantry, Hasbrouck Heights. whyhunger.org
CUMAC, Paterson. cumac.org
Human Needs Food Pantry, Montclair. humanneedsfoodpantry.org
St Mary’s Food Pantry, Pompton Lakes. stmarys-pompton.org
nourishnj, Morristown. nourishnj.org
St. John’s Soup Kitchen, Newark. njsk.org
House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry, Church of God & Saints of Christ, Newark. houseoflovesoupkitchen.org
Interfaith Food Pantry, Morris Plains. Mcifp.org
St. Joseph’s Food Pantry, Newton. https://stjosephnewton.org/food-pantry
Sparta Ecumenical Food Pantry, Sparta. www.spartaumc.org