MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Even in the face of budgetary cuts and staffing shortages, over the weekend a number of mail carriers came through for Middlesex County residents in need of food assistance.
Saturday marked more than a decade since the National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive first debuted in Middlesex County, mainly through the efforts of local union leaders.
Each year, various regional U.S. post offices distribute informational post cards that announce an approaching collection date, suggest items for donation, as well as provide contact information. On this designated day, generally the Saturday before Mother’s Day, dispatched mail carriers both pick-up and transport food collections on top of making their usual rounds.
At its height, the regional participation was far reaching and accounted for 12 tons of donated food making its way into the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services’ (MCFOODS) New Brunswick warehouse. Since the donation recipients are of a post office’s choosing, MCFOODS’ portion was a fraction of an even greater sum received by other area pantries and agencies.
“There’s no way to know if it’s the economy, the geographical location or just an overall trend in society, but donations from the drive have dramatically decreased as of late,” said MCFOODS Project Manager Jennifer Apostol. “But that doesn’t make us any less grateful for what we’ve received, both past and present. Our hope is that these postal carriers and their selfless actions will serve as an example for all of our residents to follow.”
On May 11, the East Brunswick Post Office donated 500 pounds of food to assist MCFOODS with stocking up its supplies. Likewise, the New Brunswick Annex, where carriers’ routes reach New Brunswick, North Brunswick and Highland Park neighborhoods, contributed more than 5,000 pounds to the MCFOOODS program.
“These donations will help us early on in the season, but we need more to keep up with summer demands,” Apostol said. “Agency representatives typically walk out with around 200 pounds of food during weekly winter allotments – an amount that in many cases has to be stretched between dozens of families. During those same weekly distributions in the summer, that amount falls to 150 pounds due to decreasing donations. At the same time many families lose the option of subsidized school lunches for their children.”
Apostol said various county libraries host year-round drop-off donation sites for MCFOODS to include: East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Milltown, Monroe, North Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, Spotswood and Woodbridge.
For more information on MCFOODS program, an operation overseen by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, log onto www.mciauth.com or contact Apostol at 609-655-5141 or by emailing email@example.com.
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