You Can Help Curb Hunger in Somerset County!
| Curbing Hunger Month Kickoff
|| Look for the orange bags!
|| Food supplies are very low.
Even though Somerset County is known for its affluence, food insecurity for children and adults is an enduring issue. Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer is urging residents to help change that by supporting the 23rd annual Curbing Hunger Month food drive.
State Sen. Kip Bateman, members of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and food bank supporters gathered at the Food Bank Network of Somerset County to launch this year’s program, which will help boost food supplies there and at the Franklin Township Food Bank and other local food pantries serving Somerset County residents.
“It’s hard for most of us here today to imagine going to bed hungry,” said Freeholder Director Palmer. “But that’s the reality for more than a million New Jersey residents, including nearly 400,000 children. In Somerset County, there are just over 11,000 people receiving SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) – including an almost equal number of adults and children. So despite Somerset County’s reputation as one of the wealthiest counties in the Northeast, hunger in our communities is very real.”
The Curbing Hunger food drive will be held in June to benefit organizations that help the hungry in Somerset County. There is an easy online donation option as well. Visit www.CurbingHunger2017.org to select and purchase food to donate; food items will be delivered directly to the local food bank by Amp Your Good, which is hosting the online drive on its website. Follow the topic on social media at #GiveHealthy.
Orange plastic bags were distributed to county households in May – look for them tied to the handle of your recycling container. You can use any plastic grocery bag if you didn’t receive an orange one. Place canned food donations in the bags and leave them at the curb on your regularly scheduled recycling collection days from June 5 through 30.
The Courier News and MyCentralJersey.com, longtime sponsors of the Curbing Hunger program, will serve as a food-collection point at their second-floor 92 E. Main St. office in Somerville, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the month of June.
High on the list of 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. For ideas about healthy foods to donate, go to http://bit.ly/DonateHealthy
Food supplies are traditionally low during the summer months, when school lunch programs close and there are no holiday food drives. That’s why the Curbing Hunger food drive is held in June to help alleviate this annual shortage.
Food Bank Network Executive Director Marie Scannell said her organization is now serving close to 1,400 families a month. “We’re really looking forward to the Curbing Hunger Month food drive to be a success,” she said. “We rely so heavily on these donations to keep our shelves stocked.”
“The food-insecurity rate in Somerset County is over 7 percent,” said Curbing Hunger Inc. President Chuck Knill. “For our neighbors who are facing food insecurity, it is not just a hunger issue, it is a health issue. These people and families also struggle with high rates of health issues due to a lack of access to healthy food – issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
“What I would like everyone to do this year is, when you put out the orange bags of non-perishable food at the curb, also go online to www.CurbingHunger2017 and buy a bag of apples, carrots or another healthy alternative that will be sent directly to the food bank,” he said. “Last year nearly 5,000 bags of food were collected curbside in June; if we could get that many bags of healthy fruits and vegetables donated, how great would that be? We all can help.”
If you miss either of your recycling days in June, curbside donations are collected year-round as well. Use one of the orange bags or any plastic grocery bag to place canned food at the curb on any of your recycling collection days throughout the year. Donations of non-perishable food also are accepted at the First Saturday of the Month recycling drop-offs held at the Somerset County Recycling Center at 40 Polhemus Lane in Bridgewater.
Curbing Hunger started as a pilot program in Somerset County in 1995 and was expanded to several other counties in New Jersey. Since then, more than 2.4 million pounds of food have been collected statewide, valued at over $3.9 million. More than 2 million pounds have been collected in Somerset County alone.
The Curbing Hunger campaign is a joint effort of the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the county Recycling Center, county and municipal public works departments, the Food Bank Network of Somerset County and Curbing Hunger Inc.
Supporters of the program are MyCentralJersey.com and the Courier News; St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Basking Ridge is a founding sponsor. The Bound Brook school district will conduct its fourth annual food drive through June 13 to support the program.
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