By Madeleine Wright

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — If you’ve been to the grocery store at all lately, you’re likely suffering from a case of sticker shock. One of the items really rising in cost is fresh produce.

The United States Department of Agriculture predicts the costs of fruits and vegetables will increase as much as 4.5% this year compared to last year. That increase equals tough choices for families in Camden County.

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Samer Abouharb is grocery shopping with his three young sons. They need fresh quality produce as they grow.

He says lately, he’s had to spend more time driving for Lyft so he can afford the rising cost of food, including produce.

“Sometimes you need to work a little extra hours a night, like maybe 16 hours to support your family,” Abouharb said.

At Fayer’s Market on Haddon Avenue in Camden, white onions are $1.99 a pound. They used to be $1.29 a pound.

Collard greens are $2.48 a pound. They used to be $1.99 a pound.

The general manager of the store, Jordani Valdez, says distributors are charging him more money to buy the produce and those costs get passed to the customers.

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“Especially when the issue with Russia was going on and the gas went up, deliveries went up, so transportation going up, that causes most of the items to go up,” Valdez said. “It’s just been hurting us as small business owners.”

A bag of limes used to be $1.50 a pound. Now, it’s $3 a pound, and you only get six little limes instead of eight big limes the size of lemons.

“This bag of spinach is $3. For $3, you could go to McDonald’s or something like that and buy a good meal instead of buying just a bag of spinach,” Valdez said. “That’s the reason why it’s so difficult for people to start eating healthy.”

The increased cost of fresh produce makes the decision to eat healthier tougher and more expensive.

Abouharb is hoping policymakers intervene.

“Like maybe there needs to be a change,” Abouharb said. “Something they need to do, the government or anything, something they need to do something to stop the rise of price.”

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The Food Bank of South Jersey says they work with more than 200 partner agencies in the region in order to provide food to those in need.

Madeleine Wright