MIDDLESEX COUNTY – The ingredients needed to carry out the Fall Harvest Food Drive are unchanging: the autumnal season, dozens of volunteers, food donation bags and supplies from Monroe’s active adult communities.
With these players and staples still very much intact, organizers from Middlesex County’s official food bank face the challenge of restoring donation amounts back to their former volumes.
Starting with the economic downturn of 2008, Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services’ seasonal supplies have tapered off, where demand continues to swell.
“I wish that I could say that there are less people relying on us for assistance, but unfortunately, that’s not the case,” said MCFOODS Project Manager Jennifer Apostol. “As of this last week, we served 44 agencies, a 10 percent increase from our average. These churches, soup kitchen and other social service organizations are basically conduits to hundreds of area residents in need of food assistance.”
Apostol said that MCFOODS, an operation overseen by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, has increased this year’s community outreach efforts to avoid donation shortfalls, which ultimately translate into smaller distributions for participating agencies and their clients.
“It’s obvious that the people of Middlesex County are quite giving, because without them, we would not be able to assist the number of individuals and families that we have in the past,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Blanquita B. Valenti. “The problem is that the numbers are shrinking – both with participation and donations. As it stands, we’re using that tried-and-true strategy of hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.”
MCFOODS volunteers will drop-off flyers and donation bags to all Concordia and Clearbrook residents in Monroe on Oct. 12. Staff from Monroe Township Department of Public Works will visit Concordia neighborhoods for pick-up on Oct. 21 and Clearbrook on Oct. 22.
Throughout the entire month of October, MCFOODS will also leave bags with and conduct ongoing collections at the clubhouses of the other participating communities, to include: Rossmoor, Regency at Monroe, Encore Monroe, The Ponds, Greenbriar at Whittingham and Renaissance at Monroe.
In addition to the drive, Apostol wants to make the public aware of the various Middlesex County libraries that host year-round, MCFOODS drop-off donation sites, such as: East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Milltown, Monroe, North Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, Spotswood and Woodbridge.
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