Monmouth residents can help feed their neighbors in need by bringing nonperishable goods to their local library in April.
County officials gathered amid the bare shelves of the sorting room in the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Neptune, Tuesday to announce the launch of the Food Drive of Monmouth County. The 13 branches of the Monmouth County Library System will serve as collection points for food donations to benefit the Foodbank. Residents who drop off food to a library location from Monday, April 2 to Monday, April 30 will have $2 deducted from outstanding late fees for each item donated.
“County government is the perfect avenue to advance the message of feeding our residents and our residents do need food,” Freeholder Director John Curley said. “The FoodBank has witnessed an increased need during our national economic recession, which is affecting each and every one of us.”
Curley noted that Monmouth County saw a dramatic increase in the number of residents applying for food stamps and hired five part-time clerical workers to help clear a three-month backlog in processing applications. In assessing the needs of some 80,000 people in Monmouth County who depend on emergency food, the county began a dialogue with the nonprofit, he said.
“Those people who do not qualify for food stamps often turn to the FoodBank,” Curley said.
According to FoodBank Executive Director Carlos M. Rodriguez, the organization has seen a 71 percent increase in demand for emergency food since the start of the recession. In 2011, the FoodBank supplied 260 food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters with nearly 7 million pounds of food. The middle class families who helped stock the shelves with their donations have become the FoodBank’s newest clients during the economic downturn, Rodriguez said.
“We have empty shelves here in our sort room. When these shelves are empty, it’s a bellwether for things that might be coming,” Rodriguez said.
The Monmouth County Library System has had success with week-long “Food for Fines” programs in the past and was happy to expand the endeavor to a month given the growing need, said Monmouth County Library Director Ken Sheinbaum
Recommended donation items include peanut butter, granola bars, canned tuna fish, pastas, rice, cereal, beans, baby foods and formulas, canned and dry soup, and canned fruit. Residents may drop off food donations at bins located in the building in Freehold Borough, the in Freehold Township, and the 13 branches of the county library. The library system has locations in Atlantic Highlands, Allentown, Colts Neck, Hazlet, , , , , Ocean Township, , , and .
"Let's join together. Let's work together. This is for our neighbors, people who really are in need," Curley said.