Donations of both money and goods have fallen in recent months at Community Services, which is Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s poverty-reduction arm, threatening to impact people who need food, housing, and other basic services in Central Jersey.
It’s unclear what contributed to the drop in support, which possibly was rooted partly in the relocation of Catholic Charities’ food pantries in Trenton and Burlington County, said Arnold Valentin, director of Community Services, who noted that the moves dented walk-in donations. County funding to Community Services in both Burlington and Mercer counties has fallen too, Valentin added.
The falling support comes at a time of increasing need:
- Hunger spikes in the summer, especially for children, who rely on schools for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program.
- New Jersey leads the nation in foreclosures, and has had the highest foreclosure rate nationally since 2015, according to industry estimates.
- Homelessness rose 10 percent in New Jersey from 2017 to 2018, more than almost any other state, according to the statewide 2018 Point In Time count.
- Poverty has risen steadily in the past five years in New Jersey, which ranks in the top 10 nationally for income inequality as the gap between rich and poor widens.
- The number of clients served by Catholic Charities’ Community Services in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, and Ocean counties rose from 2017 to 2018 in almost every program, including food pantry visits, holiday assistance, food stamp assistance, immigration support, and elderly residents receiving help with home repairs.
Catholic Charities’ food pantries, like other food pantries, get stocked by regional food banks. But they also rely heavily on donations from individuals, corporations, and other community supporters to operate. Financial donations are just as important as donations of food, clothing, and other items, because pantries need money for operational costs, Valentin (pictured right) noted.
“We count on the community to partner with us to help their neighbors in need,” Valentin said. “So we’re putting out the call: We need help now. Please, do what you can, because your support can make a big difference for hundreds of people who live on the margins in our area.”
How to help
Community Services welcomes financial donations of any size, as well as donations of food, small household items, new or gently used clothing, and other items. For details on donating, click here.
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