Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey has seen the impact of the daily struggle with food insecurity for many families in our community, and that has worsened during the pandemic. The agency, which serves Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson counties, offers food assistance services through Kosher Meals on Wheels deliveries and the Corner Market, its food pantry. Pre-covid, the agency served 75 to 100 families through its pantry program; that number has skyrocketed to 552 households, and that number rises bigger every week.
Susan Greenbaum, the CEO of JFCS, has been addressing the very real challenges facing families. JFCS understood that food insecurity was going to become a long-term community issue. Ms. Greenbaum oversaw the expansion of the JFCS food pantry, renamed the Corner Market. With the support of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and other partners, JFCS streamlined its operations and increased the pantry’s capacity, expanding both its physical space and its ability to serve more community members. Clients now can schedule a pickup appointment online, noting household size, kosher status, and food and household item preferences. Using staggered appointment times to ensure confidentiality, staff brings pre-packed bags down to clients’ vehicles in a fully contactless manner.
Now, with more than 2,300 people receiving food assistance at the agency, JFCS has made it a priority to educate others on food insecurity in the community.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ms. Greenbaum spoke to students from Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford on Zoom. She told them about the surprising number of local families who rely on JFCS and others to help them feed their families.
“Food insecurity can impact anyone, especially with all the uncertainty covid has caused,” she told the students. “It is no one’s fault, and we want to make sure everyone receives the food they need without any concern of judgement.”
JFCS is a part of Bergen County’s Food Insecurity Task Force, a coalition of non-profits that strive to end hunger as a result of the pandemic. Under the leadership of Bergen County Commissioner Tracy Zur, the task force has helped non-profits like JFCS work together to provide healthy, accessible food options for families. It also provides opportunities for nonprofit leaders like Ms. Greenbaum to coordinate services and supplies where needed.
“With food insecurity becoming a pressing national issue, JFCS is well-positioned to meet the growing needs of our community,” Ms. Greenbaum said. “The food and household items that our clients receive on a regular basis provide them with a sense of relief. The money they save on groceries can now go toward rent or childcare, helping to reduce stress and anxiety for the families.”
If you need food assistance from the Corner Market, go to jfcsnnj.org/market. If you would like to sign yourself or a loved one up for Kosher Meals on Wheels, call (201) 837-9090 or email email@example.com. For more information about JFCS’s other services, go to jfcsnnj.org.