By Lauren Wanko
“I’m hungry all the time,” said Jennifer Rose Bey.
This 20-year-old is struggling to provide for her family and find a job.
“It really hurts my feelings all my family is in the house and I can’t feed them,” said Bey.
A visit this morning to the Last Resort Emergency Food Pantry in Asbury Park means Jennifer’s family will have a hot meal tonight.
“I got some rice, mashed potatoes, not much but it helps,” said Bey.
Last Resort Emergency Food Pantry is open three days a week. They typically serve 60 people in one hour. Everyone who comes leaves with a bag of groceries. This is enough food last to anywhere from one to two days.
The holidays are now weeks away, typically a time of year when demand is particularly high in pantries. Volunteers say that’s changed.
“That greater need doesn’t have seasons anymore, that greater need is all the time now,” said Bob.
This food pantry get deliveries from the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. In the past year food distribution increased by 16% here to over 8.5 million pounds. Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez says Superstorm Sandy, the weak economy, and the recent reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, formerly known as food stamps, are all to blame for
the increased need. The FoodBank expects the need to grow even more this year.
“Even with this increase in food distribution however, we will not be able to off set the cuts, that this one cut in SNAP has had on our community, especially when so many more families, seniors are depending on this program to get by, while the economy gets back on its feet for us here locally,” said Rodriguez.
That’s why today’s donation is desperately needed. Seaside Heights business owners impacted by both the storm and the fire joined together to loan 1,500 turkeys from Stop and Shop off the truck and into the FoodBank. Carousel Arcade Owner Helen Stewart lost her business twice, still she spent the afternoon here in the cold for those most in need.
“I think it’s good to help people out people have helped us out” said Stewart.
Meantime Rodriguez is worried about more cuts to SNAP benefits. He’s working to ensure New Jeresayans reach out to legislators.
“Right now the house and Senate are contemplating cut in SNAP benefits that range from 4 billion to 40 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Any percentage of that to families we’re serving will have an even greater devastating impact,” said Rodriguez.
It’s an impact Rodriguez says New Jersey residents can’t bare.