Help needed to fight hunger in our Ocean County, NJ and Monmouth County, NJ communities
The face of homelessness, the face of mental health/illness, the face of hunger -- what do they have in common?
Invisibility but not from nobody caring or knowing, rather that, anyone -- man, woman, or child -- face these challenges in their lives.
It's not one kind of person, one person who works this kind of job or that kind of job, one person who is this age or that age, etc. but people all over who look just like us in many cases who are struggling to make ends meet and in the case of hunger in particular -- finding food to eat and provide for your family.
One stereotype of hunger is the Oliver Twist look of someone dressed in rags or ripped-up clothing searching for something to eat and is poor and destitute.
You or I could be hungry or on hard times trying to find enough food or meals for the family or ourselves and nobody else would know.
Triada Stampas, the CEO/President of Fulfill (formerly the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean County), spoke on this topic and more while appearing as a guest on Sunday on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' which airs weekly on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk.
"One of the things we'd often talk about pre-pandemic (in foodbanks/society) was that hunger suffers an invisibility problem. The picture that people call to mind is typically is somebody destitute or indignant but the reality is so much more diverse and varied," Stampas told Townsquare Media. "That really stems from the fact that food is where families who are struggling with low budgets or who have lost income -- that's where they can sacrifice. People will keep the roof over their heads over anything else. We have a saying, 'rent eats first', and that is 100-percent true. You can't sacrifice on your rent payments, you can't sacrifice on the gas that you need to put into your car so that you can get yourself to work -- there are all these other essential costs of living where you can't really skimp, so what we find is that people start skimping on food and that becomes the canary in the coalmine of real crisis, the real precarious situation that folks can find themselves in."
There are some people out there, whether it's on social media or in-person but from a distance, who scoff or judge those who are seeking help and/or services, and in this case, as it relates to hunger and food insecurity.
It's a heartbreaking trend that Stampas hopes will soon come to an end.
"It breaks my heart when I hear comments about the cars people drive when they come to our drive-up distribution. You don't know when that car was purchased or what circumstances a person was in when they signed that lease on that vehicle that they were using, and what circumstances they're in now," Stampas said. "It breaks my heart when I hear people being judged for the number of children they have. A pregnancy lasts 40-weeks -- there is a whole lotta life that can happen in those 40-weeks, and a lot of change that can happen."
If you are in a fortunate enough setting right now, put yourselves in the shoes of someone out there trying to find food and meals without much to spend to bring something home.
It's on each one of us to do what we can, however small or large, to help raise awareness but also volunteer our time, any monetary donation, or a food donation to help our brothers and sisters here in Ocean County and Monmouth County.