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Fulfill Proudly Recognizes 40 Years of Fighting Hunger in Monmouth & Ocean Counties

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The nonprofit marshals community support to meet increasing need with a growing response.

NEPTUNE, N.J. - TelAve -- What began in 1984 as a compassionate response to a local need has evolved into a transformative approach to building food security at the central Jersey Shore. This year, Fulfill, formerly known as the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, celebrates its inception and four decades of fighting hunger and improving lives.

Forty years ago, a local pantry leader teamed up with a few like-minded visionaries who were compelled to do something about the need they were seeing. They pooled their resources and on October 2, 1984, the food bank was founded in a Spring Lake warehouse. In its inaugural year, the food bank offered aid to 25 charities with 100,000 pounds of food.

Driven by escalating need, Fulfill's reach expanded. Within a decade, the food bank was distributing nearly 2 million pounds of food annually. This growth necessitated the construction of a 43,000-square-foot headquarters located in Neptune in 2001, catalyzing a 50 percent increase in food distribution in just one year.

Seeking to address the underlying causes of food insecurity, Fulfill's response evolved. With a production kitchen in its Neptune headquarters, the food bank launched a culinary training program to give local residents the opportunity to learn new job skills, and apply those skills in preparing after-school and summer meals for children in need. Additionally, Fulfill implemented a garden education program on its grounds to teach residents affordable ways to grow their own food. Then in 2006, Fulfill became one of the first food banks in America to help eligible residents apply for SNAP benefits (then called food stamps) and secure a sustainable monthly food budget to pay for groceries.

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Fulfill has also been at the front lines of the response to disasters and crises over the years. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the foodbank not only continued to distribute food without interruption, but also addressed longer-term recovery needs by adding health insurance enrollment assistance, and for many years, free tax preparation for local residents. Fulfill's Ocean County satellite facility – the BEAT Center located in Toms River – became a hub of support for a still-recovering community when it opened in 2016. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic saw many food pantries and soup kitchens suspend their operations completely. But that was not the case with Fulfill. The foodbank remained active and committed to assistance throughout the pandemic – offering community distribution of emergency food boxes and partnering with local restaurants to provide prepared meals for home delivery for those who were isolated at home.

Fulfill's 40-year journey reflects a true commitment to accelerating food security through partnership and collaboration.

"Our mission is not just about food distribution – it is about connecting people to resources and removing systemic barriers that perpetuate hunger," said Triada Stampas, President & CEO of Fulfill. "None of it would be possible without our supportive and dedicated community: all of the charities and government agencies that partner with us, the volunteers who give us their time and talent, and the supporters who fund our work."

Today, Fulfill is distributing enough food for approximately 1.2 million meals every month – a scale that would have been unimaginable four decades ago. The food bank's partnerships with nearly 300 community-based organizations also significantly drive the ground-level efforts to provide food and essential services.

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"Our vision at Fulfill is to create a community where everyone has access to the food and services they need, and our network becomes a catalyst for that change," Stampas emphasizes.

With 2024 marking four decades of unwavering commitment and dedicated work, Fulfill continues to evolve, forge new partnerships, and add to its lasting impact. Fulfill has become not just another food bank – it has become a true testament to the power of collective action against hunger and a beacon of hope for the community it serves.

To learn more about Fulfill's mission or to become involved in the movement, visit www.fulfillnj.org.

About Fulfill FoodBank
Fulfill, the FoodBank for Monmouth and Ocean counties, has been dedicated to addressing hunger in the Jersey Shore community since 1984. As an active member of Feeding America, Fulfill proudly works with a network of nearly 300 partners, including soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters to provide 1.1 million meals per month to area residents, families, children, seniors, and veterans in need. Committed to more than just food distribution, Fulfill also offers connections to affordable healthcare options, Medicaid, SNAP benefit assistance programs, and other services to help neighbors lead healthy and self-sufficient lives. To learn more or become involved, visit https://www.fulfillnj.org.

Allison Brown, Design 446

Source: Fulfill

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