WAYNE, NJ – According to a report issued by the Community Foodbank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), hunger and food insecurity is on the rise in New Jersey. This is the continued fallout from the coronavirus shutdown and Wayne Township has not been unaffected.

“COVID-19, and its impact on food insecurity, will not leave any part of the state unscathed,” the CFBNJ report stated. “Every county, city and town throughout New Jersey will experience greater hardship as a result of the pandemic.”

The Wayne Interfaith Food Pantry, for decades, has been a resource for local residents who are food insecure and continues its calling, but COVID has affected this group as well. During the spring and summer, the pantry itself has been closed because most of the volunteers are seniors who are in the high-risk category. Yet they have remained busy.

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“Currently there are over 165 families receiving support from WIN and they have all been receiving supermarket gift cards, on a monthly basis, to assist in their purchase of groceries,” said WIN Food Pantry Director Barbara Cohen.

This is a nearly 30 percent increase since the shutdown began in March.

"We really need to thank all those Wayne area residents, organizations and businesses that donated generously during the height of the pandemic this spring and summer,” Cohen added. “With a Special thanks to Mayor Chris Vergano who, during his daily COVID-19 briefings, encouraged residents to send checks to WIN, as well as other groups that were trying to meet community needs.”

The food pantry has recently begun to open back up and two Wayne synagogues, Shomrei Torah and Temple Beth Tikvah, sponsored their annual High Holiday non-perishable food and basic necessities drives to help restock the shelves.

“These essential annual drives are vital in helping to stock the WIN food pantry for the coming winter months,” Cohen said.

Yet, even with the state of New Jersey increasing it’s Supplemantal Nutrition Assistance Program and the CFBNJ providing help all summer long, it’s a never ending fight against hunger across the state and in Wayne Township.

“For the moment, we are stocked really well, but we have so many more clients than we had before, and we are going through food very, very quickly,” said Cohen. “So, when I say for the moment, it could mean just this week.”

Each week, the WIN Food Pantry is packing more than a hundred bags of groceries, and they also provide grocery store gift cards for perishables that WIN can’t supply because of lack of refrigeration space.

The CFBNJ’s report states, “The pandemic is likely to erase nearly a decade of gains in food insecurity, and the public and charitable sectors must prepare for a coordinated, long-term response to elevated need throughout the state.”

This is a call to action to all Wayne residents to help their neighbors during a very difficult time

With Thanksgiving coming in seven weeks, Christmas four weeks after that and three months of winter following, the WIN Food Pantry surges forward heroically, knowing that Wayne residents, business and service-oriented organizations have come through in the past and will come through in the future.

The Wayne Interfaith Network (WIN) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.Their coalition of volunteers come from churches, synagogues and other organizations throughout the Township. Anyone wishing to donate non-perishable food may do so by appointment only. 

For more information about WIN, and to see a list of what the pantry needs most, visit  www.winfoodpantry.org.