Supply chain issues, COVID impacting local food banks ahead of holiday season

HILLSIDE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Food banks in our area were already struggling to meet high demand during the pandemic, but now with recent global supply chain issues, food banks are facing fewer donations and increased costs.

"Anyone who goes shopping sees prices see prices are fluctuating, if you can even get some items, and we know things are even more expensive, even aside from food," said Carlos Rodriguez, the president and CEO of Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

As grocery and big box stores wait for container ship goods still sitting in ports, their shelves are thin, but it also means they have less food to donate to food banks, like the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Sixty-five percent of its food supplies were donated before the pandemic and before supply chain issues. Now, only 30% is given to them.

"So we continue to rely on purchasing as a primary means to be able to put food on tables of everyone who needs it," Rodriguez said.

So it's costing them much more out of pocket and they're buying more food to feed more families.



"We used to provide enough meals for 50 million meals before the pandemic, this year we are on target to provide 93 million meals," Rodriguez said.

Now there are more working families being forced to decide whether to pay the bills or buy food. The answer for tens of thousands of them is to turn to local food pantries and many of them get their supplies from places like the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

That means this center is stretched thin, but says it won't break if people continue to give.

The holiday season approaches, Rodriguez says, with turkeys at least 35 cents more expensive per pound than last year.

He says every dollar donated helps provide up to three meals and they're feeling the crunch.

"How long can we sustain this for? Quite frankly as long as the community continues to care about our neighbors in need and continues to really fuel this response," Rodriguez said.

Click here to donate and help fight hunger.

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