Food insecurity continues to be a serious problem in Asbury Park. The Mercy Center estimates that it serves between 5,000-7,000 people a month. The Trinity Church Episcopal Parish provides an additional 35,000 meals a year. Interfaith Neighbors Farm to Food Pantry Initiative provides seasonal fruit and vegetables to another 200-400 families. Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs also distributes local seasonal food on Sundays at the Asbury Park train station and Saturdays on Bangs Avenue. Yet, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority reports that our city is the 17th ranked food desert in the state. Those on a mission to address those concerns and provide food justice to all residents of Asbury Park report, the number of people at risk of hunger in Asbury Park is increasing at a rapid rate. The Monmouth County Needs Assessment back in 2020 stated, “Because the county has a high cost of living, many families are making tough choices between paying rent, utilities, childcare costs, healthcare or food.”
Because the county has a high cost of living, many families are making tough choices between paying rent, utilities, childcare costs, healthcare or food.2020 Monmouth County Needs Assessment
The Monmouth County Needs Assessment cited lack of transportation and lack of awareness as two barriers for people seeking food. Kim Guadagno, Executive Director of The Mercy Center, believes the situation in 2023 is much worse as the end of Covid-19 benefits have severely impacted families in Monmouth County. The Mercy Center estimates that this year it will feed 80,000 people:187% more people than in 2022. The US census 2020 report places 25.8% of Asbury Park residents below the poverty line. The latest statistics from IndexMundi show that 28.6% of the community live in poverty. Those at the highest risk of hunger are the elderly, children, the homeless and working families who spend between 30-50% of their income on housing costs. Meals on Wheels reports that 18% of seniors in Asbury Park say they do not have enough to eat. Though Interfaith and Meals on Wheels will prepare and distribute 350,000 meals to seniors and the disabled this year, many others will not have enough to eat.
Above is a link to the website that lists all the food pantries and soup kitchens in Asbury Park.
The FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties is now Fulfill NJ. It’s new name, Fulfill NJ, reflects the fact that today its focus goes beyond providing food and helps those in need get to a place where they can get back on their feet for good.
Fulfill NJ’s Holiday Benefit Show raised $2,566 – which means 7,700 meals for neighbors in need. Entertainment was provided by local artists, including Alexander Simone & Whodat? Live Crew, The Break Plans, Jake Thistle, Jared Clemons and EZ Eddie Z.
(L-R): Event host – Tim Cabrey, Alexander Simone & Whodat? Live Crew, EZ Eddie Z, Jared Clemons Trio