Once again, residents of Newark’s Ironbound community received a help from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which distributed 1,500 boxes of food over the weekend to those impacted by the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was coordinated through the office of Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, whose 29th Legislative District includes the Ironbound.
“Even though we made it through the pandemic, there is still a great need for food among the residents of the Ironbound,” said Pintor Marin, who helped distribute food packages. “People are still struggling because they still aren’t working.”
The Food Bank distributed food in the Ironbound last month in an event also spearheaded by Pintor Marin.
The coronavirus caused New Jersey’s unemployment rate to skyrocket from 3.7% in March to 16.3% in April and dipped only slightly to 15.2% in May, the latest month data is available.
Unemployment benefits have been out of reach for many who work in cash-payment jobs in construction, cleaning services or as waiters and bartenders in the Ironbound’s many restaurants.
Essex County, and Newark in particular, has been hard hit by COVID-19, though the rate of infection and death has dramatically decreased from the peak a few weeks ago. The county has reported 18,593 positive cases of the virus and 1,750 deaths. Newark has had 7,707 positive cases and 615 deaths.
Food was distributed Saturday morning at Sport Club Português and Down Bottom Farms, part of the Ironbound Community Corporation’s urban agriculture program.
“This is a partnership that is borne out of need,” said Community Food Bank of New Jersey CEO Carlos M. Rodriguez. “So many families were impacted by the pandemic because of loss of work. The need skyrocketed around the state and we saw it here in the Ironbound. So we do what we always do. We find local partners to help us provide services so that every family has food. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you fall on hard times. That’s the way our community is built. You need, we provide.”