Food Insecurity: Food Bank of South Jersey Statement on Jobless Claims Findings

Projecting Ongoing Record-High Food Insecurity into 2021, the Food Bank of South Jersey Continues its COVID-19 Emergency Hunger-Relief Response

PENNSAUKEN, NEW JERSEY (August 18, 2020) – Though national jobless claims are on the decline, accelerated food insecurity remains high in South Jersey, cautions leadership of the Food Bank of South Jersey – South Jersey’s largest hunger-relief organization and a member of the Feeding America network of leading national food banks.

Currently the Food Bank of South Jersey is continuing to meet a strong demand for food support from the four counties it serves – Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem – with more than 95,000 people turning to the Food Bank for food resources each month.

Based on current projections the Food Bank of South Jersey will experience significantly higher volumes of people – as much 50 percent above pre-pandemic levels – well past the end of 2021.

“As of June 30, 2020 there were over 137,000 residents of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties out of work because of COVID-19, on average between 40,000 to 50,000 of those unemployed residents have been in Food Bank of South Jersey emergency food distribution lines at some point since mid-March,” reports Greg DeLozier, Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations for the Food Bank of South Jersey.

Food Insecurity: South Jersey

According to DeLozier, the current state of jobless claims and accelerated food insecurity is on pace to necessitate the Food Bank’s ongoing heightened hunger-response deployment for the foreseeable future. According to DeLozier, it remains critical to watch trends in jobless claims and other pertinent impact factors.

  • U.S. weekly jobless claims fall to 963,000, first time below 1 million since mid-March, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the US economy.
  • For 20 straight weeks, the number of people filing for first time-unemployment consistently came in at more than 1 million, peaking at nearly 7 million at the end of March.
  • While the decline is a positive sign, the numbers are still historically high. In the same week a year ago, 218,000 people filed for initial benefits.
  • For the unemployed, rising costs for grocery items continue to strain budgets even more, with staples ranging from eggs to beef seeing price hikes. For many U.S. households, simply putting enough food on the table is a struggle.
  • For nearly 30 million Americans who saw their $600 weekly unemployment benefit bonus from the CARES Act expire on July 31 — exacerbating concerns that food insecurity, due to COVID-19, would continue to surge for the foreseeable future.

“The pressure on families where one or both wage-earners is unemployed continues to grow with the need to pay for health insurance, nationally over half of newly unemployed workers relied on employer sponsored programs,” reports Fred C. Wasiak, President and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey. “The loss, at this time, of the $600 supplemental unemployment benefit places more pressure on families to choose between paying for food and health insurance.”

For more information on the Food Bank of South Jersey’s hunger-relief efforts,
visit www.foodbanksj.org.

ABOUT FOOD BANK OF SOUTH JERSEY

Marking its 35th year in 2020, the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) is the leader in providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey. FBSJ distributes food, provides nutrition education and cooking courses, and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives. Throughout 2019, FBSJ distributed over 15 million pounds of food, more than 230,000 summer meals and over 17,500 senior food boxes, as well as serving 95 health and wellness programs to more than 11,700 residents. Providing community impact through local support, FBSJ ensures that local donations stay local. FBSJ is a member of Feeding America, our nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

During 2020, with COVID-19 bringing school closures, stay-at-home orders, record-breaking unemployment and rising poverty, FBSJ within the first 120 days of response to the COVID-19 crisis distributed more than seven million pounds of food throughout its four-county region of impact, including the distribution of more than 34,500 emergency food boxes to food-insecure populations, increasing its partner agency network to over 200 and serving over 94,000 food-insecure South Jersey residents each month, including the distribution of more than 218,375 nutritious breakfasts and lunches to more than 35,000 food-insecure South Jersey children. To learn more, visit www.foodbanksj.org. On Twitter, follow the Food Bank of South Jersey @foodbankSJ.