The joyous holiday season begins next week with Thanksgiving — but for many New Jerseyans, this is a season of struggle, not joy.

“One in 10 people in the state of New Jersey are what we call food insecure — in other words, don’t know where their next meal is coming from. One in 10,” said former New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. She's now the president and CEO of Fulfill, formally known as the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

She said these are people who will “wake up tomorrow morning not knowing where they’re going to have breakfast, or whether they are going to have breakfast.”

New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation but “we do have food insecurity here," Guadagno said.

"People are making decision between buying medicine for their children or putting food on the table every day, and they’re your neighbors," she said.

Guadagno said now is a great time to help those in need by either donating food or money, or your time at local food pantry.

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“People are still coming into our pantries, who do not yet know if they are going to have a turkey on Thanksgiving," she said. "Think about that.”

Fulfillnj.org lists locations in Monmouth and Ocean counties to drop off turkeys.

Guadagno pointed out hunger is not just an issue during the holidays.

“Over the next year we will be preparing and delivering 34,000 backpacks for kids so they have food on the weekends," she said. "Hunger has no seasons.”

She stressed during this holiday season and at other times of the year it’s important to remember we don’t always know what hunger looks like.

“Just because somebody is driving a nice car doesn’t mean that he’s not also living in that car,"  Guadagno said.

She continued: “It’s a pretty good bet that when you’re in the grocery store or when you’re in the mall, that you’re walking next to somebody who has not had enough to eat today, or they had to make a decision to feed their children instead of themselves, or to buy their medicine instead of put food on the table. It’s a problem we can solve with the generosity of the people of New Jersey.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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