Take a moment to look around your neighborhood, chances are most of your neighbors live in a nice home, drive a decent car, maybe have a have pet or two and have some form of income. How could food insecurity be an issue here, in beautiful Bergen County?
I have long supported food relief programs within the United States, it was not until I became an employee of CFA that I became fully aware of how pervasive hunger is in the United States, and in my own back yard. Like you, I live in Bergen County, considered to be a relatively affluent part of NJ. I never realized that hunger is not simply an outcome of poverty, but that so many of our neighbors are one crisis away from having to decide between health insurance, car payments and a trip to the grocery store.
Imagine if your spouse suddenly had an illness that prevented them from working, not only have you lost their income, you now have medical bills to pay. Or perhaps as a result of rising wages and automation, your boss has to reduce your hours or eliminate your position entirely. It is expensive to build a life in NJ, even without illnesses or loss of income, it is sometimes a challenge to make ends meet.
Unemployment is low, that is true, but if you look very closely, you might find that the high-paying jobs are shrinking, and many qualified candidates are accepting jobs with less income, causing the rise of the underemployed.
So how can you tell, from the outside, if your neighbor in that big house has enough to pay for cancer treatments, assisted living care for their parents, car insurance, utilities, taxes, prescription drugs, the mortgage, car payments and a pantry full of groceries? You can’t.
All we can do is be grateful for our blessings and offer a hand to our neighbors.
If you are interested in learning more about the changing face of hunger in America, you may enjoy an article published by National Geographic, The New Face of Hunger, written by Tracie McMillan.