Record high gas prices combined with high inflation is having a devastating effect on many New Jersey families.

With gas prices over $5 a gallon, some difficult choices are being made. In some homes, where money was already tight, it may come down to food-vs-fuel.

Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Transportation show in many households, the rise in gas prices is now equal to a quarter of the food bill for a family of four in New Jersey.

Census figures estimate the monthly food budget for a family of four in New Jersey is approximately $1,000 per month.

A nearly $2 per gallon increase in the price of regular gasoline could be costing many working families as much as $273 per month.

For more perspective, a fill-up that cost about $49 a year ago, now costs more than $80. If you are filling two cars once per week, that works out to an increase of more than $3,200 per year.

The figures also put an average round-trip commute at 45-miles per day. It doesn't factor in travel for kids' sports or other activities or leisure travel.

While the impacts to families will be different depending on each family's individual circumstances, it shows the dramatic impact the rise in fuel prices is having in general.

After housing a work costs, food is the biggest priority of most families.

The impact to New Jersey families is also reflected in the increase demand being seen at food pantries around New Jersey. Every pantry has reported an increase in demand for food.

Even prior to the rise in fuel costs, it was estimated nearly 14% of households in New Jersey were food insecure. Nearly 17% of NJ's children are food insecure.

Many children rely on public schools for breakfast and lunch every day, and with the school year about to come to an end, many districts are scrambling to continue summer lunch programs to meet increased demand.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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