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Food Needs Still High After Sandy [AUDIO]

NEW JERSEY 101.5

A Thanksgiving staple was donated to hungry families in Ocean and Monmouth County, but the demand for nutritious food remains high.

Turkeys donated by Stop and Shop to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. (Photo by Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media)

Fifteen hundred frozen turkeys were donated by Stop and Shop Tuesday, part of a 12-year tradition that sees the supermarket chain donating 21,000 birds across five states. At 12 pounds apiece, the birds are large enough to feed 1800 people.

The turkeys are just part of the birds that will ultimately be delivered to food pantries, shelters, and other organizations throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties. In all, the food bank expects to deliver around 11,000 turkeys and countless pounds of trimmings, just for Thanksgiving.

The turkeys were unloaded off a tractor trailer by a group of Seaside Heights businesses who volunteered as a “thank you” for the support given to them since the storm.

Volunteers distribute turkeys to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. (Photo by Ilya Hemlin, Townsquare Media)

“When we were in such desperate need, people reached out to us and helped Seaside Heights, unconditionally. So for us to come and help out people in the two counties, we’re blessed,” said Seaside Heights mayor Bill Akers.

FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties Director Carlos Rodriguez said that while the influx of donations since Sandy has died down, the increased need from the storm has not.

“This year we have to continue to meet that need that still exists, however, we have to look more at our local and traditional partners to meet that increased need,” he said.

Rodriguez points out in Monmouth and Ocean County, 27,000 people (or one in every ten), will rely on the food bank for assistance. Looking through five or six of the 250 programs the food bank serves, Rodriguez said they already have over 1000 families in need of help for Thanksgiving.

“That’s just a meal for Thanksgiving, this is not really describing the need that is around Monmouth and Ocean County,” he said.

The need for assistance skyrocketed after Sandy, but has been slow to come down even a year after the storm. Rodriguez said it could take upwards of seven years for the shore to still recover from Sandy, barring another natural disaster or calamity.

He warned federal cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) started November 1st, which will create more need for the food bank to help families put nutritious food on the table. Rodriguez points they already are feeling the cuts to SNAP.

“We started feeling it November 1st, and it’s going to continue as families are making decisions about whether to pay the lights, pay their rent, or put adequate food on the table.”

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