It’s the holiday season, and for many New Jersey families, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For others, however, it is the greatest time of need.

More than 50 million people live in poverty across the country; many of them live right here in the Garden State.

According to Kathleen DiChiara, President and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the need for food this holiday season is more than she’s ever seen. She has been in her position for more than 30 years.

“Our partner agencies have reported a rise in need of 40 percent in the past year,” says DiChiara. “When you combine that with the recent rise in our poverty statistics, the situation is dire.”

The FoodBank has received donations for the holiday season, but the agency is still worried the supply of turkeys will not meet demand. Tens of thousands of families have asked the FoodBank for help.


Video by Dino Flammia

DiChiara explains, “We purchase turkeys often times in July so that we can get them at the very best price, and then we cross our fingers and hope that people will send donations to help us pay for them.”

On Saturday, volunteers will be on hand at close to 40 north and central Jersey locations to collect frozen turkeys and canned/boxed non-perishable foods. The drive runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In the last year, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey distributed 39 million pounds of food to help feed 900,000 people in need. The FoodBank recently earned Charity Navigator’s highest honor for the third consecutive year, a four-star rating.

DiChiara says it is important for people to remember those in need after the holidays. “These people aren’t just looking for a special holiday meal. These are people struggling to put food on their table every week,” she says.