NB C.A.R.E.S. (Community Assistance Relief Events and Support) has been distributing food weekly, alongside the NJ Sisterhood, to North Bergen residents in need.
Every Wednesday, from noon to 2 p.m., the organization distributes food. The need has increased due to the financial hardships resulting from the pandemic.
NB C.A.R.E.S. is an expansion of North Bergen’s Emergency Relief Program, created in response to a 2013 fire. The program has since expanded to help residents in other ways.
In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, NB C.A.R.E.S. Director Aimee Focaraccio outlined how the weekly food distributions have been benefiting the community.
From lockdown to giveaway
The idea for the weekly distributions was born amid the pandemic.
During the stay-at-home order, NB C.A.R.E.S. was delivering food to senior citizens, said Focaraccio. Residents could also pick up emergency food supplies from the organization.
Once she saw the need increase, Focaraccio said that NB C.A.R.E.S. worked with other local organizations to bring about the larger, weekly food giveaways.
Now the organization partners with the NJ Sisterhood for the weekly food distributions at 79th Street and Bergenline. The demand was so great that a second distribution was organized.
On Wednesdays, NB C.A.R.E.S. holds a second distribution from 4 to 6 p.m. The locations change to serve other areas.
Focaraccio said the emotional response from the residents has been tremendous.
“Everybody’s been very grateful,” she said. “Everyone is struggling during this pandemic. Whether you’ve been laid off or you’re on unemployment, the situations are difficult.”
Many factors contribute to the need for the food supplies.
Focaraccio said that Mayor Nicholas Sacco was instrumental in making sure that NB C.A.R.E.S. had supplies throughout the pandemic. She noted that Sacco was the deciding factor in making the food distributions a weekly occurrence.
Winter on the way
Focaraccio said that NB C.A.R.E.S. has committed to food distributions until the end of October. From there, she said the organization is “playing it by ear,” though nonperishable food will always be available.
The annual Thanksgiving giveaway is still scheduled. Focaraccio anticipates a lot of planning to coordinate the event.
“Right now we are focusing on giving out as much perishable stuff as we can,” she said. “Once the weather changes, we may have to go back to nonperishables.”
NB C.A.R.E.S. recently distributed school supplies to students at multiple giveaway locales, so students would have the supplies they need for virtual learning.
They also hold annual holiday-themed giveaways, such as the Halloween costume giveaway, the aforementioned Thanksgiving giveaway and a Christmas giveaway.
“We always have large turnouts for our giveaways, but I feel like right now it’s even more important,” Focaraccio said. “It’s like a stress release for a lot of people when you don’t have to think about these extra expenses when you have so many other worries right now.”
For more information on food distributions, check northbergen.org or Mayor Sacco’s social media pages.
Proof of residency and masks are required.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.