The Issues of Food Insecurity in New Jersey

Steve Adubato sits down with Carlos M. Rodriguez, President & CEO Community FoodBank of NJ, who talks about food insecurity in New Jersey and the concerns about hunger for students when schools are on summer break.

8/3/2019 #318






"Once again, we're joined by our good friend Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO at Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Tell folks, Carlos, what the FoodBank is and why it matters so much. Well the FoodBank is the primary fighter against hunger throughout New Jersey. And we're doing it two ways. First, making sure that we can take care of that immediate need for food, but also looking and trying to solve why that need exists in the first place. So let's do this. We're doing this program in the Summer of 2019. Summer hunger is? Summer hunger is over 400,000 children in our state that rely on school meals. Whether it be breakfast or lunch. And during the Summer, those meals are gone. So families are working hard, not having that school breakfast or school lunch that they relied on, or counted on during the school year, and now have to fend for themselves during the Summer. What's the impact? The impact is, you know, we're... our response is more of a hundred thousand meals every Summer that we're helping to produce, and creating awareness around where those meals can exist in areas of high need. You know what? I'm curious. You and I were talking right before we got on the air, that... and by the way, we're involved in a public awareness initiative with the Community FoodBank to talk about food insecurity and related issues. One of the things that struck me... and some of our higher ed partners and the folks we work with at Seton Hall and also at Berkeley, they said, "You know, food insecurity affects college students in a certain way." A, how are college students affected? And b, what are colleges doing, together with the FoodBank, to deal with it directly to help their students? Well I mean first you have to think that 900,000 people in New Jersey are in need of food. Are food insecure. Eight plus million folks? Eight... 900,000...? Exactly. That's close to ten percent of the population. That's almost everyone. So to find - to realize that there is a need in college campus shouldn't be a surprise. Hunger exists in every community, and throughout every demographic in our state. Whose responsibility is that? That's all of our responsibility, it's private-sector, it's charitable sector, it's government sector coming together, because our state will not thrive if hunger exists. So some colleges are, in fact they have food pantries right on campus right? So since about 2014, we've been working with various colleges to help them start food pantries, to support the food pantry, and to help them understand what else can be done for their college population. Many students just struggle, especially first-generation students, just to get into school and to manage the reality of..."