MONTCLAIR, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Despite industries beginning to reopen across the country, the hunger crisis caused by the pandemic is still ongoing and now a national organization is stepping in to help in New Jersey.
James Betts, the divisional commander at the Salvation Army of New Jersey, says the pandemic has caused hunger in the state to skyrocket.
“As we look back across the last year, we had a 450% increase in demand for food, which equated, for us, to over 8 million meals served,” Betts said.
Major Betts says they’ve been trying to keep up, but are operating with a reduced staff because of the pandemic.
“Because our typical volunteers could not get out or were struggling with the pandemic themselves,” he explains.
Major Brett DeMichael also notes that 40% of those who they are serving have never needed help from the organization before this year.
“People that maybe you know lost a job or had their income decreased dramatically, those are the people that are saying, ‘We've never been in this place before and we need help,’” he said.
Dave Poliseno, a regular at the Salvation Army site in Montclair, says it’s a crucial part of the community.
“This place is very important in case the help is needed, it's available here,” he tells WCBs 880’s Peter Haskell.
Though, the organization is struggling to meet the need.