County food drive enters home stretch

More than 5 tons of food have been collected so far   

FREEHOLD, NJ – With one week to go, residents have donated more than 5 tons of food to the Food Drive of Monmouth County, which is being conducted throughout the month of April.

Donations are filling the shelves at the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The Board of Chosen Freeholders has chosen the food drive as a way to celebrate National County Government Month. The national theme this year is “Healthy Counties, Healthy Families.”

“We are so pleased with the generosity our residents have shown during this food drive,” Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley said. “People who need food are not those who we traditionally think of as the poor. Today, most people in need of assistance are formerly working, middle class families who lost their jobs or are underemployed. This food drive has one week left, but I urge everyone to continue to donate throughout the year, because the demand on the FoodBank is significant.”

The main collection points are the 13 county library branches, including the Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury and the Library Headquarters in Manalapan. As an incentive, the libraries are offering to erase fines for overdue materials in exchange for donations of food. Collection bins also will be at the Hall of Records in Freehold and the Agriculture and Human Services buildings in Freehold Township

The county’s partnership with the FoodBank stems from a situation earlier this year in which the county Social Services office was experiencing a three-month backlog processing applications for food stamps. Curley, who is liaison to Social Services, declared a food stamp emergency in Monmouth County and immediately hired five part-time clerical workers to help ease the backlog.

Non-perishable, protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, granola bars and tuna fish are examples of items suitable for donation.

There are 13 branches of the Monmouth County Library, all of which will be participating in the month-long “Food for Fines” program to benefit the FoodBank. The libraries are: Headquarters in Manalapan, Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, Atlantic Highlands, Allentown, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Holmdel, Howell, Marlboro, Ocean Township, Oceanport, Wall and West Long Branch.

“As the main collection points, our county libraries have been very busy collecting the food for the food drive,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library System. “I commend the staff at all of our library branches for taking on these extra duties and helping out with this worthwhile cause.” 

The drive works this way: patrons who have outstanding materials will bring their food to the library counter. The libraries will reduce the fines by $2 for every food item donated. Separate bins have been placed in the libraries for people who do not have fines but want to donate food anyway.

Curley reminds residents that they don’t have to owe a library fine to participate in the food drive.