As inflation continues to push supermarket prices higher a new study finds almost 9% of the population in New Jersey is food insecure, which means they struggle at times to get enough to eat, but experts believe the actual numbers are much higher.

Adele LaTourette, the senior director of policy and advocacy for the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, said “what we have seen lately is just incredible percentages of increase in the numbers of people going to food pantries and soup kitchens.”

“There is food insecurity, hunger in all 21 of our counties, there is no county that is exempt from the problem of hunger and food insecurity.”

LaTourette said with food prices constantly increasing lower-income families can’t keep up.

Concept image to illustrate harsh economic times
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Can't put food on the table

“You and I go to the food store and we see it and we’re shocked but we can make due,” she said, “but there are increasing numbers of people across the state that simply cannot afford to feed their families.”

She said the Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study found food insecurity among Black and Latino residents is more than 5 and a half times that of white residents, 17% versus 3%.

“This is not shocking news but this report shines a light on the disparity, and I think it’s something we need to focus on addressing,” she said.

She added most food assistance programs that began when the pandemic started have been phased out, and that makes a bad situation even worse.

Everybody can help

Latourette pointed out September is Hunger Action month.

“It’s to focus people on the issue, inspire people to take action and raise awareness about the levels of hunger, what people are seeing, who’s impacted.”

She said everyone can do something to help make a difference.

“They can give food, they can give time, they can volunteer, pantries have seen a big dropoff in volunteers because people are just exhausted by the scale of the problem,” she said

She pointed out that because of inflation people who “when they went food shopping would buy a few extra things to donate to their local food pantry are no longer doing that because they simply can’t afford to.”

She added, “some people may think because the pandemic winding down the need for food assistance is no longer there, but it is, and in some cases it’s even larger than it was.”

For more information about the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, you can visit their website

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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