The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders is continuing its springtime partnership with the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and collecting non-perishable food for the entire month of April.
“One in every 10 people in Monmouth County receives emergency food from the FoodBank’s network of pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies,” Freeholder John P. Curley said. “The spring is when donations to the Food Bank fall off and Monmouth County is willing to help increase awareness to this problem and take the lead in getting food donations.”
This is the County’s fourth consecutive April food drive. To date, Monmouth County residents have helped send 25 tons, more than 50,000 pounds, of non-perishable food to the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. This year’s goal is to collect 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food.
Collection bins will be available at many County locations, including the County Hall of Records, Agriculture Building, Care Centers, Longstreet Farm, Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Belford Ferry Terminal and Monmouth County branch libraries.
Drop off sites in the Link area include:
• Ocean: Ocean Library, 701 Deal Rd.
•Oceanport: Oceanport Library, 8 Iroquois Ave.
• West Long Branch: West Long Branch Library, 95 Poplar Ave.
The branches of the Monmouth County Library System will be participating all month, but they will add the “Food for Fines” program from April 12-25.
“The County’s libraries and parks are the public gathering places in many communities, so it makes sense that our libraries and parks are key collection points for this annual food drive,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library System. “The ‘Food for Fines’ program is a good way to get outstanding material returned to the library and help a good cause at the same time.”
The “Food for Fines” program at the libraries works this way: from April 12 through April 25, patrons who have outstanding materials will bring their food to the library counter. The libraries will reduce the fines by $1 for every food item donated. Donation bins will also be available in the libraries for people who do not have fines but want to donate food as well.
Food items suitable for donation are non-perishable, protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, granola bars and tuna fish. Other most needed food items are ready-to-eat canned meals, canned fruits, canned vegetables, instant potatoes, canned and dry soup, canned pork and beans, canned juices, sip-size juices and hot and cold cereal.
“With an increase in distribution from 7 million meals a year in 2012 to now 10 million meals a year, our partnerships have become essential to be able to provide these meals,” said Carlos M. Rodriguez, executive director of the FoodBank. “We are grateful for our partnership with the County, who are standing side-by-side not only with the FoodBank, but with our neighbors in need.”
The County’s partnership with the FoodBank stems from a situation in 2012 in which the County Social Services office was experiencing a backlog processing applications for food stamps. Curley, as liaison to Social Services, declared a food stamp emergency in Monmouth County and immediately hired part-time clerical workers to help ease the backlog.
The County’s Made in Monmouth event set for Saturday, April 11 at Monmouth University will be another opportunity for residents to donate. The one-day showcase and shopping festival of products, all made in Monmouth County, will have food donation collection bins at the entrance. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.