While Thanksgiving is over, the season of thanks, giving, and hope has only just begun, and its next chapter is now right thru the holiday season and into the new year.

There's are pretty tough right now financially and economically for a lot of residents and families living in New Jersey where affording things has put some in a position where they have to choose rent/mortgage or getting food to feed their family in the Garden State.

"The need that we have seen over the course of this year has really been unanticipated and in a lot of ways unprecedented," Triada Stampas, CEO/President of Fulfill, tells 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk on Sunday morning. "The number of people that have been using food pantries in Ocean and Monmouth Counties went up 60-percent in the first six months of the year -- that's just between January and June -- and we usually see a dip over the summer, there's enough seasonal employment in our area that folks have a few more dollars in their pockets that may not need a pantry as often -- we didn't see that this year, instead of a dip, we saw the need plateau and it hasn't gone down since."

food bank shelves
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

Be it inflation, taxes, unaffordability, people being laid off, or another related matter, things have become extremely bad for a lot of people in Ocean and Monmouth County alone and many are struggling to find money and then get enough food.

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"We are in times that for low-income people -- are just not normal -- we've kind of left the crisis phase of Covid and what we've entered into is a food affordability crisis," Stampas said.

For anyone right now, trying to buy the healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are more expensive as seemingly are anything of quality overall.

Kylie Moore photo
Kylie Moore photo

Stack that against being able to afford to live in an apartment, home, etc.

"Food is often the thing that gets sacrificed first, right, we have the saying in our space that 'rent eats first', right, people will prioritize keeping the roof over their head and where they can find ways to sacrifice and skimp, is with food," Stampas said. "First, it's usually in quality -- buying the lower cost food that may not be as good for you, but, it's cheaper and it's filling, and then, when those kinds of sacrifices no longer kind of help you make ends meet, it's sacrificing in quantity and just not having enough or not having as much at home."

Shawn Michaels, Townsquare Media
Shawn Michaels, Townsquare Media

Fulfill is trying to help people in this food crisis.

"We're prioritizing the kinds of foods that we know are best," Stampas said. "This year, we're aiming that 60-percent of the food that we distribute is protein, produce, and dairy. If we reflect on what actually is unaffordable and what's missing in the pantries and the refrigerators and on the dinner tables of the people we serve, it's those most nutritious foods that happen to be the most perishable and the most expensive, so, that's really where we're trying to fill the gap."

Food in a donation box
mangostock, ThinkStock

As your means allow this holiday season, please consider helping out Fulfill so that they can help your family, friends, and neighbors.

"Donations of both food and funds are valuable and we are so grateful to the community here that we have where folks come through and it's really a beautiful thing to see and we wouldn't be able to do our work without that," Stampas said. "In terms of foods, a lot of the shelf stable items associated with holiday meals are in demand all the way through the end of the year, so, that includes canned gravy and stuffing and cranberries, canned vegetables -- preferably low sodium -- canned foods with pop tops, we're seeing a lot of families who don't have stable housing, so they might not have the full kitchen equipment to rely on."

You can listen to the full conversation we had with Triada Stampas of Fulfill on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' and how you can help them help the Jersey Shore community, right here.

Conversation Part One:

Conversation Part Two:

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