You're being asked to help feed Jersey Shore residents struggling to make ends meet as part of the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties donation drive kicking off today. For the third year in a row, the Food Bank is partnering with the Monmouth County Library Systemand the Freeholder Board for the month-long effort, according to Food Bank Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez. "The spring is an important time for us, after the holidays and right before the summer we experience a lull in a lot of the canned foods we depend on to distribute," he said.

flickr, Micah68

The Food Bank serves more than 260 pantries in Monmouth and Ocean. "Before the storm (Super storm Sandy) we were serving over 127,000 people. That's about one in ten residents throughout Monmouth and Ocean County, " Rodriguez said.

The increase in need is about 12 to 15 percent higher than a few years ago, Rodriguez estimated. "When we did our last survey and identified over 127,000 people in need, 51,000 were children," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said while the Food Bank is hopeful the figures will get better, it's realistic. He said they are aware of how long recovery from Sandy will take because of residents still faced with relocation or rental expenses on top of rebuilding costs. He added the economy is still having a negative impact on people who live in the area.

The Food Bank is seeking any shelf-stable product, such as canned vegetables and soups. Donations can be dropped off throughout Monmouth County, and at the Library, or for a list of the nearest locations you can visit foodbankmoc.org.