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September is back to school month. It is also Hunger Awareness Month. And although families are still becoming homeless, or terrifyingly close to it, hunger is an issue that has become more prevalent and more apparent since the beginning of the pandemic. You probably remember seeing videos of the lines of cars waiting for a box of groceries or heard reports of families who never needed help in the past frequenting food pantries. But did you know that right now 1 in 9 people in Bergen County do not have access to adequate nutritious food and that 1/3 of them are children?

Pre-pandemic, we used to think of the Family Promise Walk-in Dinner Program as an important, yet ancillary, program to our stated mission of providing shelter and support to working families who experience homelessness. In fact, seeing a family at the Walk-in Dinner was a rarity. Currently, close to 50% of those receiving meals are from households of two or more people.

The Walk-in Dinner has become a program vital to keeping people in stable housing. Many families and individuals have not recovered from the negative effects that COVID had on their personal finances. The money that they save from receiving free nightly meals makes funds available to pay the rent.

We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who provides a meal, volunteers to pack and serve them, or donates to this essential program. Your kindness not only feeds people’s bodies but also their souls and lets them know that they are cared about during Hunger Awareness Month and throughout the entire year.