Thanks to caring supporters like you in 2022, CFBNJ provided enough food for over85 million meals to neighbors facing hunger last year.
Together, Yolanda and her husband work hard to give their family the best life possible, but inflation has made it a challenge to feed three growing kids – one boy and two girls,
aged 10, 12, and 14.
“Food is expensive, and every little bit counts,” she said. “We both work, but it’s never enough.” Yolanda’s husband is a full-time train mechanic, while she splits her time between caring for their kids and working part-time in a grocery store. After her shift as a friendly neighborhood cashier, Yolanda is super mom, picking the kids up from school, taking them to extracurriculars, and helping them with their homework.
But everyone needs help sometimes, and Yolanda has found support at Faith Baptist Church, her local food pantry in Cranford.
“The food helps us tremendously, especially with the kids in school,” she shared. “We don’t qualify for free lunch, so this really helps out.”
The pantry enables Yolanda to send the children to school with nutritious lunches so they can learn and socialize throughout the day. They especially enjoy getting canned string beans, apple sauce, and mac and cheese from the pantry, and Yolanda teaches them to be good eaters.
“I always tell my kids that we can’t afford for them to be picky. I teach them not to waste food,” she said. “Prices have gone up so much, but the pantry really makes such a difference.”
Pulling up to one of CFBNJ’s turkey distributions, Karen was greeted by our Network Relations team with enormous enthusiasm. She’s the Director of Helping Hands Food Pantry: The Janice Preschel Project, an active community partner in Teaneck. What began as a small pantry seventeen years ago now serves up to 700 families per month, sustained entirely by the efforts of volunteers.
“We work 24/7, eight days a week,” Karen emphasized. In addition to pantry staples, Helping Hands also provides other critical necessities, holiday food, special items for kids’ birthdays, and more. With all of this, Karen likes to say that Helping Hands is “the Rolex of pantries.”
Her own struggles with hunger have motivated Karen to give clients the best possible experience when they visit the pantry. In 2010, Karen lost her job and found herself on the line at Helping Hands. She offered her services as a volunteer to keep busy and help out until she got back on her feet, but she remains there to this day – the heart of the pantry’s operation. Now, she works full-time in the medical field while running the organization.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Helping Hands lost its founding director to COVID-19. That’s why the pantry added “The Janice Preschel Project” as part of its name.
When asked what advice she has for those who want to make a difference in their communities, like she does, Karen told us: “Smile, be kind, and let’s keep giving back.”
At school, seven-year-old Neymar used to hide extra food from the lunchroom in his backpack to take home to his family when they didn’t have enough to eat. His teachers would often notice that he was tired, hungry, and unable to focus during lessons.
But with the help of his school’s Parent Liaison, Neymar’s family was enrolled in CFBNJ’s Family Pack program. The regular access to nutritious food has greatly improved his
engagement level and academic performance.
“We’ve noticed with Neymar that he’s become more focused in the classroom,” said Ms. Branco, the principal of Neymar’s school. “He’s paying more attention in class, fostering
more relationships with his peers, and playing more often on the playground.”
Neymar, his two siblings, and his mom moved to Newark recently. At the school he attends, the Family Pack program has been especially helpful for immigrant families, like Neymar’s, by connecting them to resources they might not otherwise have access to.
Now, Neymar can often be found sneaking to his cubby to eat the extra fruits he receives from the Family Pack distributions.