County food drive helps meet spring need

FREEHOLD, NJ – The 30-day Food Drive of Monmouth County has added 21,488 pounds of nonperishable foods to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“Our food drive was extremely successful,” Freeholder Director John P. Curley said. “I am very proud of Monmouth County’s employees, who donated a tremendous amount of food and effort, and I am extremely proud of the residents of Monmouth County for the donations they have given, realizing that in many cases it is their neighbors who benefit from the food drive. It was magnificent.”

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The final donations of food were delivered to the FoodBank late last week where the final amount was tabulated for today’s announcement. By comparison, the FoodBank’s largest food drive occurred during the last holiday season, when 68,000 pounds of food, or 34 tons, was collected.

“The donations from the countywide Food Drive of Monmouth County made this the largest spring food drive the FoodBank has ever had,” FoodBank Executive Director Carlos Rodriguez said. “It was very timely and the results are unprecedented. This allows us to meet the spring need and we can now start focusing on the summer, because the need for food never goes away.”

More than 80,000 people in Monmouth County are in need emergency food at any given time. To ease the burden, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders responded to this need by partnering with the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties to hold a food drive.

The main collection points were the 13 county library branches. As an incentive, the libraries offered to erase fines for overdue materials in exchange for donations of food. Collection bins were also at the Hall of Records in Freehold, the Agriculture and Human Services buildings in Freehold Township and a number of other county offices.

“The county library staff did a wonderful job responding to the call and expanding their Food for Fines program to help the FoodBank,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Library. “Many people came to the libraries with food even though they did not owe a fine. We thank all our generous patrons who helped to make this drive a huge success.”

“People who need food are not those who we traditionally think of as the poor,” Curley said. “Today, most people in need of assistance are formerly working, middle class families who lost their jobs or are underemployed. This food drive made a real difference, but I urge everyone to continue to donate throughout the year, because the demand on the FoodBank and other food pantries is significant.”

The FoodBank recommends items such as macaroni & cheese, pasta, powdered milk, dry beans, cereal, canned vegetables and fruits, salad dressings, peanut butter, jelly, puddings, fruit juice and canned tuna fish, chicken, corned beef hash or salmon.

In addition to the need for food, the freeholders selected the food drive as a way to celebrate National County Government Month, which is celebrated every April. This year’s national theme was “Healthy Counties, Healthy Families.”   

“The food drive was a terrific way to celebrate National County Government Month and I applaud all of the county staff who worked so hard on this effort, and of course the employees and residents who gave so generously to the cause,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said.

“A big thank you goes to our county employees who donated at their county offices, and to the residents, both of whom donated all month long,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “The library staff should be singled out for extending the Food for Fines program and collecting the bulk of the food.”

“Even though the county exceeded its expectation, it is important to remember that the need for food is constant, and therefore the donations to the many food pantries in Monmouth County must continue,” Freeholder Gary J. Rich Sr. said. “Congratulations to all who made this effort a success.”

The Food Bank is located at 3300 State Highway 66 in Neptune Township, NJ 07753. The phone number is 732-918-2600.

The Buildings and Grounds staff needs to be singled out for making sure that the bins were emptied on a regular basis and for coordinating the pick-up activities with the staff at the FoodBank,” Curley said. “Teamwork and coordination made this Food Drive a success.”