Emergency food assistance expected to stay at record levels for two years or more
Twelve months of surging demand for emergency food assistance from pandemic-hit workers made for a grueling and unprecedented year for New Jersey’s food banks. And now they are bracing for more of the same over the next two years even if unemployment drops in line with declining COVID-19 infections.
The economic damage wrought by mass layoffs and business closures is expected to persist long after vaccines become widely available and that means demand for food assistance will remain at the current high level for months or years to come, food bank executives said.
Leaders of the state’s three biggest food banks said so many people have built up debt, including rent or mortgage arrears, just to survive the pandemic that they will continue to rely on the emergency food network for some time even as they start to return to work and rebuild their finances.