The New York Times
February 19, 2009
MORRISTOWN, N.J. — Cindy Dreeszen and her husband live in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. They have steady jobs, his at a movie theater and hers at a government office. Together, they earn about $55,000 a year.
But with a 17-month-old son, another baby on the way, and, as Ms. Dreeszen put it, “the cost of everything going up and up,” the couple went to a food pantry last week to ask for some free groceries.
“I didn’t think we’d even be allowed to come here,” said Ms. Dreeszen, 41, glancing around at the shelves of fruit, whole-wheat pasta and baby food. “This is totally something that I never expected to happen, to have to resort to this.”
Once a crutch for the most needy, food pantries have responded to the deepening recession by opening their doors to what one pantry organizer described as “the next layer of people,” a rapidly expanding group of child-care workers, nurse’s aides, real estate agents and secretaries who are facing a financial crisis for the first time. Over all, demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. And while pantries usually see a drop in demand after the holiday season, many in upscale suburbs this year are experiencing the opposite.