Despite the generosity of countless township residents donating food and money, the South Brunswick Food Pantry is still seeing empty shelves due to an alarming increase in the number of families seeking assistance.
In July, . That number was eclipsed in August, as 81 families sought assistance from the pantry.
"There are no signs of slow down and although food has come in since we last asked, we are still empty," said Social Services Director LouAnne Wolf. "It is going out faster than it's coming in."
According to a 28 percent of Middlesex County residents are not making enough money to meet the needs of their families. An Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) household is considered one that is above the poverty level, but is below a basic cost of living threshold.
Wolf said it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for the dramatic increase, though she hears many of the same issues affecting township families.
"It starts to feel like a broken record, but people's unemployment is ending and they're either unemployed or underemployed," she said. "We just have so many new people. Last week we had two people who are basically the stereotypes for problems hitting this area. People who made above average salaries, who lost their jobs, and can't find work. Their unemployment has ended and they don't have any income. We can't even help them financially because they don't fit our guidelines, so we help them with food."
However, the recent success of were a major help for Social Services. The department gave away 101 backpacks, 47 to elementary school children and 54 to middle school and high school age children.
Wolf praised the efforts of Dance on Q, T-Squared, Prime Time Seniors at St. Cecelia’s, the South Brunswick Mom’s Club and WTE Imports for all the backpack donations.
She also thanked the SBPAL for doing a food drive at Rowland Park on Aug. 25, the South Brunswick Family YMCA and the residents of the Regal Drive community for their help with food donations.
Despite the the pantry simply can't keep up with the rising number of families who need help.
"We did get a lot of food in, but the need for food is higher than what we got in, so we still need help," Wolf said
Items most needed:
- Canned Coffee
- Canned Vegetables
- Peanut Butter and Jelly
- Healthy snack foods
- Canned fruits in light syrup
- Boxed Milk
- Boxed Potatoes
- Boxed Rices/Quinoa/Couscous
- Canned Tomatoes
- Pancake Mix and Syrup
- Canned chicken, water packed tuna, beef stew and chili
- Chef Boyardee Pastas
- Water and Juices
To donate or volunteer for South Brunswick Social Services, call 732-329-4000 ext. 7674.
Follow Patch on Facebook.