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Demand For Free Food Keeping Volunteers Busy As Meadowlands YMCA Distributes More Than 600,000 Meal Kits

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - As of Tuesday, the Meadowlands YMCA in New Jersey will have handed out more than 600,000 meal kits, in what the CEO calls a frightening milestone.

A mile of cars lined up, some waiting more than seven hours to pick up boxes of food from the Meadowlands Y.

It's first come, first served, so they arrived before dawn. Some read, some slept as they waited for hours.

More: Food Banks In Growing Need Of Donations As New Families Experience Food Insecurity During Pandemic

Henry Zuniga says he arrived around 5:30 a.m. It was his third time picking up food.

"Is it really helpful?" CBS2's Natalie Duddridge asked.

"Yes, sure, yeah. The meal, especially the meal for the kids, you know," he said.

Zuniga is helping to feed his 10 grandkids and six great-grandkids.

"Sometimes we need a little more, you know? ... They stay in the house for school," he said.


Others are relying on the food to hold them over until their next job. Gerard Broderick lost his as a sanitation worker during the pandemic.

More: Coronavirus Impact: Record Turnout Expected As NYC Charities Prepare To Hand Out Food For Thanksgiving

"This food is a blessing," he said. "It really helps us to maybe put a little extra money towards a bill or rent and those things."

Every car gets a box of fresh veggies, meat, milk, eggs and non-perishables that can last up to 35 meals.

"It's hard to believe that we've been doing this for 42 weeks. After today. we'll have distributed over 620,000 meals to more than 40,000 families. The sad part is what would happen if our not-for-profits weren't still here?" said David Kisselback of the Meadowlands YMCA.


The Meadowlands YMCA says it's becoming more challenging to continue the program the community depends on.

"Sometimes you actually have people that have tears in their eyes when we put the boxes in their cars. They're just so grateful," said volunteer Lucia Suarez.

This program will continue every week as long as food is available. Every Tuesday, there's two giveaways: One at 10:30 a.m., another at 5 p.m. You don't have to sign up in advance. You don't have to show an ID. Just show up.

For more information, click here.


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