The invisible crisis: Many of our neighbors are going without food

Last week’s edition of The Observer featured a story about Phil Stafford, the creator and director of the NJ Food & Clothing Rescue. In the story, we revealed how a week or so ago, Stafford was able to collect an entire tractor trailer’s worth of produce that would be given to 25 local organizations that would re-distribute the food to those in need.

Beyond the food itself, a God-send to countless families, we learned, through Stafford, that he’s never seen a worse food-insufficiency crisis in the 20+ years he’s been providing meals, clothing, and so much more to people who have fallen on hard times.

He’s never seen more of a need for people, some of whom once were the ones donating the food, only to be on the receiving end now.

Quietly, this crisis may be as challenging and impactful as the Coronavirus, itself, has been. And if you still need proof, even after Stafford’s own words, one only needs to take a drive or walk past to the food pantry at the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington on a Friday morning to see that the line for groceries goes from the entrance on the lawn in front of 663 Kearny Ave., and it wraps around Laurel Avenue to the west.

When COVID-19 first became part of our lives, there were people on the line. But there have been more and more joining the line, each week, the further we get from March 2020, when this all started.

What’s worse is that these are the people we see. There are likely untold numbers of families or individuals who are going without and, for reasons of pride of humility, refuse to go out to take the donated food.

Maybe it’s someone you know. Perhaps it’s a next-door neighbor or family member. It might even be you as you read this. But as we’ve said time after time over the last four months, this is hardly a period to feel a need to hide. The help is there — thanks to people like Phil Stafford — and there’s no reason not to accept the incredible generosity of our locals.  And let’s not forget — the folks of this area have been most generous … just ask Melanie Pasquarelli who has spent countless hours coordinating donations and so many others like her.

This generosity exists because we’re all in this together.

No one should go without.

No one should feel alone.

Together, as the old saying goes, this, too, shall pass.

We can only hope and pray is passes sooner than later.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.