It’s hitting the gut now.
The spreading economic crisis is leaving tens of millions of Americans facing the prospect of hunger as they contend with diminished earnings or joblessness and worse.
According to one estimate, more than 35 million Americans lived in households that struggled to feed themselves in 2007; the toll this year is expected to be worse. Next year, worse still.
In New Jersey, an estimated 250,000 new clients are expected to seek help this year from food banks. And the need isn’t coming only from the inner cities. Now, even affluent suburbs are being affected.
But even as requests for assistance have risen, donations have been on the decline, leaving food bank shelves almost empty and hungry families waiting for something to eat.
“In all the years I’ve been doing this, there have been times we didn’t have money, but we had food,” says Kathleen DiChiara, founder of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey,” a wholesale distributor of food to more than 1,600 charities throughout the state. Now, she estimates the food banks inventory is down “at least 30 percent,” even as demand is up 25 percent.
So those who feed the hungriest of their neighbors are reaching out with a special appeal for donations of food and cash to help. An information blitz includes the above video, full-page ads featuring longtime food bank supporter Bruce Springsteen, and articles and essays appearing today in 103 hyperlocal news sites (that’s what we call redbankgreen) and blogs across New Jersey.
The message: a crisis of domestic hunger is looming.
“This is not going to go away after the holidays,” says DiChiara. “We need to have food drives that are going to stretch out throughout the year.”