Anticipating more need this holiday season, N.J. food banks ask for help

(HighwayStarz/Bigstock)

(HighwayStarz/Bigstock)

Food pantries in New Jersey are preparing for higher demand during this holiday season.

There’s not enough food available for the people who need it, said Tristan Wallack, the food-sourcing manager at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

“As quickly as food comes into the building, it’s going out. Our data indicates that there’s approximately 1.1 million residents in New Jersey that are affected by the issue of hunger,” he said. “It’s a constant struggle, but we do the best we can to meet that need.”

Some people who used to make donations to food banks are now turning to them for assistance.

“They’ll tell us that they had been a donor and had run food drives for us,” he said. “And also, people on the flip side, where they’re back on their feet and they’re running a food drive because they understood what it was like to be in a situation of need.”

The Food Bank collected 3,200 turkeys last year, and it’s hoping to get more this year to meet the increasing demand.

“We’re also looking for nonperishable food items and certainly we’re looking to target items that are higher in nutritious value, things that are higher in protein,” Wallack said. “So things like canned tuna fish, canned meat such as canned chicken. We’re also looking for beans, cereal.”

Donations of non-food items are also welcome.

“In particular, we’re in a real need for diapers and health and beauty products as well. Things such a shampoo, conditioners, deodorants,” he said. “Those are some things that we can always use.”

While food donations usually increase around the holidays, Wallack said they’re needed throughout the year.

“There are not really any incentives,” he said. “We’re always just looking for people who are willing to give time and energy and make a food contribution or just volunteer their time at the food bank is another way that people can help out.”

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