Somerset County officials, federal and state legislators and food bank supporters launched the 18th annual Curbing Hunger food drive Monday to help boost food supplies at the Food Bank Network of Somerset County, the Franklin Township Food Bank and other local food pantries serving Somerset County residents.
Residents are being asked to fill orange bags tied to their recycling containers and place them out with recycling pickups during the month of June.
“More people than ever before are struggling to make ends meet,” said Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh in a release about the launch. “Since the recession began, the Food Bank Network of Somerset County has seen a 25 percent increase in the number of families it serves. Donations have dropped off as corporations, organizations and individuals have had to cut their expenses.”
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Basking Ridge is a founding sponsor of the program. In addition, the Somerset Patriots support the program through scoreboard announcements and by hosting Curbing Hunger Night at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, scheduled for June 7.
Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation instead may send a check to Curbing Hunger Inc., P.O. Box 202, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920. For more information, call 908-344-5571.
There are several ways for Somerset County residents to participate in the program:
- Orange plastic bags were distributed to county households in May and are tied to the blue recycling buckets.
- Those who did not receive a bag can use a regular plastic grocery bag and write “FOOD” on it with a waterproof marker.
- Canned food donations can be placed in the bags and left at the curb on regularly scheduled recycling collection days from June 4 through June 29.
- Among the needed items are Parmalat milk; canned meat and fish; “meals-in-a-can,” such as pasta, stews and meaty soups; canned tomato sauce; canned fruits; and peanut butter and jelly in plastic jars. Perishables and food in glass containers cannot be accepted.
“The Curbing Hunger June food drive is a unique community partnership of the public and private sectors,” said Curbing Hunger Inc. Board President Chuck Knill in the release. “When all the partners’ contributions come together, it makes a major impact on the Somerset County Food Bank supplies during the summer.
“Our program is truly neighbors helping neighbors,” he added. “I urge each and every one of you to help spread the word. Tell your neighbors to take those orange bags off the cans and fill them with food. Send out emails to other friends. Post it on your social-network sites such as Facebook. Get the word out so that we can exceed our 50,000-pound goal. If we all give a little, we can make a big difference.”
Food Bank Network Executive Director Marie Scannell said the organization is now serving more than 800 families every month, including more than 3,000 individuals. Many people who were previously using the food bank only occasionally for emergencies, she said in the release, are now regular visitors, and some who previously donated to the agency are now clients themselves.
“The Food Bank’s supplies have never been as low as they are right now,” she said in the release. “Even more than in previous years, we’re really looking forward to the Curbing Hunger Month food drive to be a success.”
Scannell said in the release that more than 8,000 pounds of food were already collected curbside during the latter part of May.
The Curbing Hunger campaign is a joint effort of the Somerset County Board of Freeholders, the county Recycling Center, county and municipal public works departments, the Food Bank Network of Somerset County and Curbing Hunger Inc.
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