September is Hunger Action Month, a time to become educated on food insecurity and gain awareness on how you can help reduce its impact on our community. Although it may not be easily noticeable, food insecurity affects many communities, including Mercer County.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as lacking consistent access to the amount of food needed to live a full and healthy life and is the product of both financial difficulty and inaccessibility to proper resources. Food insecurity is not always synonymous with poverty. As of 2017, the food insecurity rate in Mercer County was 10.6%, with 67% of the food insecure individuals being below the poverty threshold for government assistance and 33% not meeting the requirements for welfare benefits (Feeding America, 2018).
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship for countless Americans, including those in our community. In Mercer County, the unemployment rate has increased from 3% in June 2019 to 12% in June 2020. In addition, the food insecurity in Mercer County is expected to rise to 13.6%, or over 50,000 people, by the end of 2020.
JFCS has seen the need rising first-hand with monthly visits to the on-site pantry doubling pre-pandemic numbers. Our Kosher Café, a nutrition site for low-income seniors to now receive grab-and-go meals, has seen a steady rate of attendance which is 25% higher than previous months.
How can you take action for Hunger Action Month?
- Learn more about the JFCS food programs and other local food banks, food pantries, and community resources to understand how they are serving those in need
- Make a monetary donation to support JFCS
- Donate food items to the JFCS Pantry
- Volunteer with JFCS or another local organization working to combat hunger
- You can help the JFCS pantry by packing bags for our on-site and mobile pantry clients! Interested in learning more? Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Eden Aaronson at EdenA@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100 Ext 113.
If you are hungry, you are welcome.
If you are experiencing financial trouble and are seeking a food pantry near you, the JFCS pantry is open to all in the community who need help. We provide all clients with a supply of non-perishable items as well as fresh produce, cheese and chicken. All our clients also receive copies of the JFCS Pantry Newsletter which shares healthy, budget-friendly recipes centered on pantry staples along with other important information and resources.
We are currently providing pre-packed bags of groceries through no-contact pick up at our food pantry located on Alexander Road, Princeton NJ. You can arrange a pick-up time by calling us at 609-987-8100 Ext 237 or using our online sign up form.
Emmanuelle Farrell, MSW Intern
Hake, M., E. Engelhard, A. Dewey, C. Gundersen (2020). The Impact of the Coronavirus on Food Insecurity [Brief series]. Available from Feeding America.
US Department of Agriculture, (2019). Definitions of Food Security. Available online.
Feeding America. (2018). Food insecurity in Mercer County. Feeding America.