By Thomas J. Shara, president and CEO of Lakeland Bank
While many families look forward to the upcoming holiday season, others struggle because they don’t have enough money for a special holiday meal. Lakeland Bank is one of the many organizations that urge the community to remember those less fortunate around the holidays. The Bank is proud to join the United Way’s Annual Holiday Food Drive to benefit local pantries. They need our help and we are grateful for this opportunity to give back.
Over the last few years, local food pantry leaders have been seeing an increase in families in need and a decrease in donations. Unfortunately it’s no surprise with the startling statistics reported by national and local sources close to the issue.
- Feeding America, the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity, reports that 1 in 6 Americans face hunger.1 And the faces of hunger are in every county in the country.
- Over one million people in New Jersey are food insecure, and 45% of them do not qualify for government assistance which increases the demand on food pantries, according to Community Food Bank of New Jersey.2
The United Way’s Study of Financial Hardship in New Jersey found that:
- Half of New Jersey’s 566 towns have 30 percent or more households earning less than what is needed to afford the basics
- One-third of ALICE households are headed by those in their prime wage-earning years, 45- to 64-years-old
- More than half of all jobs in New Jersey pay less than $20 an hour; $40,000 annually
Lakeland Bank invites customers and friends in the community to join our colleagues in helping to replenish the shelves at local pantries. Donations will be distributed by the United Way to pantries in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties. Together, we can make a difference for those families in our communities that need some extra help.
There is a high demand for non-perishable canned meats (chicken, ham, sausage and tuna), baby wipes and diapers. Other suggested items include, canned fruits and vegetables, soups and stews, pasta, rice, peanut butter, hot and cold boxed cereals, powdered or evaporated milk, 100 percent fruit juice and baby formula.
Donations can be dropped off at all Lakeland Bank branch locations until November 30. To find a branch near you, visit our Branches & ATM’s page