Somerset County Residents Can Help 'Curb Hunger'

20th Year of Curbside Food Drive Also Features Online Donation Option

BERNARDS – Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione is urging Somerset County residents to support the 20th annual Curbing Hunger Month food drive.

Rep. Leonard Lance and food bank supporters joined Freeholder Scaglione at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to launch this year’s program to help boost food supplies at the Food Bank Network of Somerset County, the Franklin Township Food Bank and other local food pantries serving Somerset County residents.  St. Mark’s is a founding sponsor of the Curbing Hunger program.

The 20th annual Curbing Hunger food drive will be held in June to benefit organizations that help the hungry in Somerset County.  For the second year, there is an easy online donation option as well.  Visit www.CurbingHunger2014.org to select and purchase food to donate; food items will be delivered directly to the local food bank by Amp Your Good, which is hosting the online drive on its website.

"Somerset County has been proud to collaborate with Curbing Hunger Inc. to conduct this annual food drive that benefits so many people in our communities," said Freeholder Scaglione.  “On behalf of the Freeholder Board, I want to thank Curbing Hunger Inc., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the many other community supporters of this very successful program, as well as our recycling and public works crews who do the curbside food collections each June.”

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. 

Orange plastic bags were distributed to county households in May – look for them tied to the handle of your recycling container. You can use any plastic grocery bag if you didn’t receive an orange one. Place canned food donations in the bags and leave them at the curb on your regularly scheduled recycling collection days from June 2 through 27.

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.

“The number of people needing food assistance remains at record levels,” said Curbing Hunger Inc. Board President Chuck Knill. “For the 20th consecutive year, county recycling crews have distributed our orange Curbing Hunger bags so that people in Somerset County can put food in them and place them at the curb for pickup. In addition we are partnering with Amp Your Good to use technology to give people another way to help the cause.”

Food Bank Network Executive Director Marie Scannell said her organization is now serving about 1,500 families a month, a number that has doubled just in the past year.  “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 Curbing Hunger campaign is a joint effort of the Somerset County Board of Freeholders, the county Recycling Center, county and municipal public works departments, the Food Bank Network of Somerset County and Curbing Hunger Inc.

Financial supporters of the program are the Courier News, MyCentralJersey.com, the Star-Ledger and Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.  The Somerset Patriots also support the program through scoreboard announcements and by hosting Curbing Hunger Night at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, slated for June 3 this year.

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 million pounds of food have been collected statewide, valued at $3 million.  More than half a million pounds have been collected in Somerset County alone. 

If you miss either of your recycling days in June, curbside donations are collected year-round as well.  Use one of the orange bags or 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.