Even with potential stimulus, food insecurity prevalent across Tri-State amid COVID pandemic

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (WABC) -- In another sign of how desperate families are to feed their families during the coronavirus pandemic, there were long lines Tuesday at several food giveaways across the Tri-State area.

People waiting for food shows that the problem of hunger isn't going away soon enough, even as Congress works out the details of another stimulus payment that many say won't be enough, whether it's $600 or $2,000.

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Nina Pineda is live from one food drive in New Jersey.

One such location is the Meadowlands Area YMCA, which has handed out one million meals since the pandemic began.

Half of those meals have been distributed since November 1, revealing the surge in demand for families in need in the surrounding North Jersey community.

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People started lining up at 5 a.m. Tuesday, with the line of cars stretching for miles with wait times of up to three hours.

"Right now I'm not working," one recipient said. "And anything that is out here for us to actually get is well worth it."

Organized by the YMCA, the event was made possible by PSE&G, the Food Bank of New Jersey, Table to Table, and ShopRite, which provided turkeys, household staples and enough food to make many meals.

"It's a big help, it really is," another said.

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The encounter was caught on video and has since gone viral, prompting accusations of racial profiling and injustice.

The pandemic has changed everything for families who never thought they'd need a handout.

"I think so many people have fallen through the cracks since the pandemic started, and there's a lot of people, I think, who were on the verge of needing help but didn't know it until they lost their job or their spouse lost their job," said David Kisselback, with the Meadowlands YMCA. "And there's a lot of that that is still going on, and even with the stimulus going through, there is still food insecurities that aren't going away."

Volunteers offered a fully contactless experience, with no questions asked.

"They've been online three or four hours, so you know that they need it if they're going to be waiting that long," volunteer Maureen Kochinski said.


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