Holiday Rush at Food Banks After Sandy

Donations are down, as demand for help climbs

Local food banks gearing up to feed more people for the holidays, now face even more families who need help after Hurricane Sandy left many displaced and homeless in the tri-state region.

About a week before Thanksgiving, some donations the food banks were counting on are going to other disaster relief efforts instead.

At the Food Bank of South Jersey in Pennsauken, dozens of shelves are being stacked with supplies. The facility serves communities in Camden, Burlington, Gloucester and Salem Counties.

This time of year is always busy and officials say donations usually go up for the holidays. Now, some supplies, like diapers and formula, are being delivered to families who lost their homes in the storm. And fewer people may be donating at a time when the need is greater

“These are people who are neighbors, people who used to donate to us are now coming to us for help,” said Joe Njoroge, Chief Operating Officer, Food Bank of South Jersey. “We're seeing a lot of people who have never accessed assistance before, now are doing so.”

Njoroge’s task is shared by Philabundance and other organizations -- making strong public appeals to raise money and collect food for those who need it.

“Every single donation goes a long way,” said Njoroge. He said 95 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs at the food bank.

At Philabundance, the majority of its gifts usually come in at this time of year. The food bank was able to come through a critical dry food shortage just before Hurricane Sandy hit the area.

“We got an overwhelming amount of support to get through a two month dry spell,” said Marlo DelSordo, Philabundance Director of Marketing and Communications.

Over the past few years, the need for local assistance has climbed at a steady pace, with an increase of 27 percent in 2012, compared with those who requested help a year ago.

“Remember your neighbors and the food bank is there to provide and to make sure people in our area do not go hungry, especially at this time, with the holidays coming up,” Njoroge said.

Food Bank of South Jersey: 856-662-4884

Philabundance: 215-339-0900

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