The non-profit charitable organization Fulfill strives to alleviate hunger and treat the complex difficulties of food insecurity with a comprehensive approach. Once under “The Food Bank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties,” the charity adopted the name “Fulfill” to capture the essence of helping the community beyond conventional food distribution. Fulfill, a leading member of Feeding America, demonstrates a firm dedication to winning the fight against food insecurity, serving approximately 215,000 food insecure neighbors each year.
A Comprehensive Approach to Ending Hunger
The organization’s headquarters located in Neptune City, NJ directs the distribution of food and other extensive programs. Fulfill has partnered with 289 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, group homes, and more to provide support to food insecure neighbors all throughout the Jersey Shore.
The B.E.A.T. (Bring Everyone All Together) Center based in Toms River collaborates with Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen as another wing of operations. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the center’s commercial kitchen housed Culinary Training classes that offered adults to build skill sets for better paying jobs. The location connects FulFill to the people served in Ocean County.
Fulfill has organized numerous programs that tailor food assistance to the individuals in need. Projects like the mobile food pantries and kids’ feeding programs have revolutionized the methods of effective food distribution. According to the organization, two out of every five people served by Fulfill’s network of pantries are children. The backpack program supplies children with easy to prepare meals for weekends and holidays when school lunch passes are unavailable.
“Fulfill’s mission is to end hunger in our community, but simply feeding the hungry does not address the long-term root of hunger. We believe connecting our neighbors in need to services that can improve their overall situation is key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and as such, hunger,” said CEO and President of Fulfill Kim Guadagno, the former Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey.
Fulfill and The Covid-19 Pandemic
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Fulfill has worked to mitigate the increasing effects of food insecurity, providing an additional 2.7 million meals to those in need, a 40% jump in demand from the past year. Many families have turned to Fulfill for the very first time in their lives. Fulfill has adapted to the changing needs from the community in the fight against food insecurity.
The Emergency Meal Kits provide a family of four with a four-day supply of shelf-stable food. Since people can no longer “shop” in pantries, Fulfill packages supplies in boxes for safe grab-and-go means of distribution.
A new text messaging system launched last April in the midst of lock down transformed the accessibility of food supply for this growing demand. By texting “findfood” (no space) or “comida” to 888-918-2729, food insecure neighbors are instantly directed to the nearest food pantry. Thousands of lawn signs and billboards have been strategically placed throughout Monmouth and Ocean Counties to spread the message further. A new social media campaign #findfood or #comida has taken on Fulfill’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.
The COVID-19-safe Benefits Bus launched at the end of October and transports supplies directly to food insecure neighbors. Built to accommodate COVID-19 safety precautions, the Benefits Bus features a “slide” mechanism that widens the vehicle once parked for six-feet between stations, three workstations protected with plexiglass, and a fully-functioning ventilation system. Teams assist people with SNAP (food stamps), affordable health care, and other financial priorities. Fulfill has become an integral part of pandemic relief.
Get Involved with Fulfill
Fulfill encourages the community to engage with the fight against food insecurity through donations, volunteering, and spreading the word through social media. Organizations and companies can even sign-up for group volunteer nights at the Neptune City Headquarter. Guadagno expects a need to rise in numbers due to the growing intensity of the pandemic. More businesses may fold, especially the Jersey Shore’s prominent hospitality industry, leaving many unemployed. Feeding America expects Fulfill’s overall food insecurity demand to grow from a 40% increase to 56% increase in months to come.
“We now serve 215,000 people in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, a nearly 50,000 increase since the pandemic. From that total number, 70,000 are children. There is no question that food insecurity is now all around us,” said Guadagno.