In Paul’s letter, he reports that the number of meals that are being distributed each day at the Walk-In Dinner has exploded. In just three years, we went from serving 90-100 meals each night to serving an average of 214 meals per night in October of this year.
Anyone who does the family grocery shopping knows that food prices have risen quickly. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, in March 2023, the price of eggs was 70 percent higher than twelve months earlier. These kinds of increases affect us all but hit low income earners and those on fixed incomes hardest. It’s no wonder that the number of families and individuals needing free meals is growing.
But who are receiving these meals? Who are we feeding? Although we don’t ask for ID or documentation, the people receiving the meals are generally from Bergen County, making them our neighbors. We know this because the majority walk to the shelter to get meals.
Here are some examples:
Robert walks several miles each day – after work – to get four meals for himself, his wife, and two daughters. “Since the children are not hungry,” he told us, “they can focus on their schoolwork.”
Charles picks up two meals, not for himself, but to bring to two seniors who are physically unable to come to get the meals themselves.
Marilyn is a grandmother who picks up eight meals for herself, her husband, and six grandchildren. “I don’t know how I’d make ends meet without these meals,” she says gratefully.
Finally, after a hard day’s work, day-laborers come to get a meal. Many have told us, “This is the only meal I will have today.”
Our guests, most of whom live in apartments of their own, understand that each dollar they do not have to spend on meals is a dollar that can be put toward the rent.
At Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude for all that we have. The families who come to the Walk-In Dinner are no exception. They know they can count on the food providers and volunteers to be there with full, nutritious meals. And they are grateful for that every day!