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You Can Help 'Curb Hunger' in Somerset County

Post Date:05/30/2018
2018 Curbing Hunger Month Kickoff
 

Kicking off the 24th annual Somerset County County Curbing Hunger Month food drive are, left to right, Curbing Hunger Inc. Board President Chuck Knill, Freeholder Mark Caliguire, Food Bank Network Executive Director Marie Scannell, Freeholder Patricia Walsh, Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione and Manville Borough Councilwoman Michele Magnani.

Even though Somerset County is known for its affluence, food insecurity for children and adults is an enduring issue. Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione is urging residents to help change that by supporting the 24th annual Curbing Hunger Month food drive.

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 Scaglione. “But that’s the reality for almost a million New Jersey residents, including 15 percent of children and 14 percent of seniors. In Somerset County, there are just over 10,000 people receiving SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) – including about 5,200 adults and 4,900 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 too. Visit www.CurbingHunger2018.org to select and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to donate; the produce 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 will be distributed to county households – look for one tied to the handle of your recycling container. You can use any plastic grocery bag if you don’t receive an orange one. Place canned food donations in one or more bags at the curb on your regularly scheduled recycling collection days from June 4 through 29.

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. Click here for ideas about healthy foods to donate.

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 more than 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.

"When you put out the plastic bag of non-perishable food at the curb this year, please also go online to www.CurbingHunger2018 and buy fruits or vegetables that will be sent directly to the food bank,” he said.

If you miss the pickup dates in June, curbside donations are collected year-round as well. Use 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 2.5 million pounds of food have been collected statewide, valued at over $4 million. More than 2.1 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 conducted its fifth annual food drive to support the program in May and is planning a fall back-to-school collection as well.

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