EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Hotels and casinos in New Jersey are taking steps to put excess food to good use during the coronavirus pandemic. The burden of food insecurity is only getting worse as people who have lost wages or been laid off because of the coronavirus are increasingly turning to food pantries for help.
There was a line Friday afternoon outside the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Egg Harbor Township.
“To ensure that everybody prior to this crisis gets their food, we are still meeting their needs as well as the additional need that has risen from our current state,” said Christy Fernandez with the food bank.
There is tape on the sidewalk to space clients at least six feet apart. Inside, staff and volunteers were packing emergency food kits to meet the needs of those who call in saying they have little or no food for their families.
“A lot of people are already feeling the economic impact of this. Some people have needed assistance in the past and some people this is the first time they are in need,” Fernandez said.
The Community Food Bank not only has their own local families to feed, they are the distribution hub to about 300 food assistance agencies in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties.
Compounding their food demand are those from the shore’s largest hospitality industry. With casinos closed and restaurants only allowed to sell takeout, shore communities face a disproportionate impact from the coronavirus business restrictions.
But there are also notable gestures of support. The Ocean Resort donated pallets of food this week.
The Borgata did the same, including thousands of pounds of produce.
“We are incredibly grateful for all the support of the nine casinos. They have donated about 125,000 pounds of fresh produce and dairy and that really allows us to address this increase in need,” Fernandez said.
Food experts say the best way all of us can help is to donate money to larger food banks.