Holiday season over, but NJ food banks still need your help
During November and December, Fulfill received millions and millions of pounds of food from donors. Residents and companies in the giving mood also submitted monetary donations to the Neptune City-based food bank.
But that can only get them so far, and not that far at all into 2019.
"Once January hits, a lot of people forget about us," said Laura Chiappetta, Fulfill's director of development.
The post-holiday months present a major struggle for the organization, formerly known as the FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties, which aims to keep about 1.5 million pounds of food in its warehouse at all times.
"Everyone wants to give around the holidays, and we're going to try to do our best to make sure people understand that we need food all year round," Chiappetta said.
Through its network of partners, Fulfill provides about 13 million meals annually to 130,000 "neighbors," Chiappetta said.
If donations came to a halt today, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey would be empty in as little as four weeks, according to president and CEO Carlos Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the facility in Hillside is "more anxious" during these months because the most giving typically occurs in the final three months each year. Plus, January brings with it countless layoffs of temporary workers who were employed in the area at retail and other establishments for the holiday rush.
"This is a time of year that we kind of hold our breath a little bit and hope that the economy does not slip for those that barely have something to hang on to," Rodriguez said.
While monetary donations are always appreciated, because a food bank can stretch it further than you likely could, the FoodBank is also in need of pasta, rice, canned vegetables and other items that have a long shelf life.
The organization can also use your time.
"We do rely on volunteers, which are in abundance in the holiday season," Rodriguez said. "But now, they forget or they move on to different things."