Stories From Main Street: Fighting Hunger In New Jersey

HILLSIDE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hunger doesn’t take a vacation.

In a New Jersey warehouse the size of five football fields, pallets of food and forklifts are whirling about non-stop.

“1.1 million people are hungry in New Jersey and about 400,000 of that number are children,” said Debra Vizzi, CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “I think the thing that we really talk about here is that every day is a crisis.”

Food donations are needed all year through and not just around the holidays. They’re especially needed in the summer when children are not getting free meals in school.

The food bank is trying to close the summertime gap.

“Kids don’t have the staples that they’re most accustomed to. Breakfast and lunch at school. That goes away,” Vizzi said.

What’s needed is that holiday spirit of generosity all year.

“Whatever you’re giving capacity is, give it to us monthly. Spread it out throughout the year so that we can then spread our mission every day,” Vizzi said.

One group working to make a difference is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program in Hillside.

“We provide after-school programming. Homework assistance, academic enrichment. We have activities such as robotics. We have a chess team. Assistance in academics and reading, language arts and sciences,” said Kean University’s Dr. Sharon Towler, who runs the program.

The program also provides summertime meals through the Kids Cafe.

“Fresh fruit, fresh produce in the morning. We have cereal and milk. As well as at lunch time they get nice vegetables, produce, protein,” Towler said.

To find out how you help fight hunger in New Jersey, click here.

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