South Jersey food bank hopes Giving Tuesday will bolster their resources

Camden County Freeholder Jon Young (center) and other volunteers and county employees carry boxes of fresh fruit and milk to a waiting car at Antioch Baptist Church.  (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Camden County Freeholder Jon Young (center) and other volunteers and county employees carry boxes of fresh fruit and milk to a waiting car at Antioch Baptist Church. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Giving Tuesday — like many things in this pandemic — is different this year.

Many relief organizations have seen a large increase in the number of people seeking their services and are hoping that the day brings additional financial support.

“It’s good and bad,” said Kimberly Arroyo, director of agency relations and programs for the southern branch of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which covers Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.

She explained it’s good that they are able to assist families in the most need right now, but it’s bad that they are stretched in their capacity to do so.

“We have increased support with the government commodities,” she added. “However, that’s not where all of our resources come from.”

The resources the organization relies on most heavily are food and money from individual and corporate donors, but donations are down.

Because of the economic hit the casino industry took in Atlantic City due to pandemic shutdowns, and recent layoffs announced by the Borgata, the food bank has seen more people in need during recent months.

Food banks in the Garden State overall have seen a surge in demand since the pandemic began. In July, six New Jersey food banks received a $20 million infusion to help meet the demand.

Arroyo, an Atlantic City native, said the recent demand is higher than anything she’s seen in her eight years with the organization; a time that includes Hurricane Sandy. She’s been emotionally impacted by what she has witnessed during the pandemic.

“We can read numbers and stats, but seeing the faces of people that you know … it’s very humbling,” Arroyo said.

She said they will be able to get through the holidays, but she is concerned about helping folks beyond Christmas as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise.

“What I’m looking forward to seeing is after the holiday season,” she said. “That’s what’s scary, is seeing what’s going to happen.”

Anyone who wants to donate or volunteer, can go to cfbnj.org.

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