PISCATAWAY, NJ — With shifts in how Americans have lived and worked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic leading many to quarantine at home, access to nutritious food options remains a concern.

Enter MCFOODS, the county’s supplier to food banks in many communities with its contactless drive-up food drive program.

MCFOODS teamed up with various organizations at Old Town East Jersey Village in Piscataway on May 15 to raise awareness about food insecurity and to collect donations of the non-perishable items that are needed to replenish food pantry shelves across the county.

“We’ve had an amazing turnout from the community,” said Jennifer Apostle, MCFOODS’ director about the number of donated items received.

“The canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, rice, pasta, soup, these are very much in demand right now and we could really use your help stocking our shelves,” said Apostle. “We’re so grateful to all those who’ve been by.”

Various volunteers including members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and County Commissioner Charles Kenney teamed up with MCFOODS to assist with lifting and sorting boxes of food items from donors’ vehicles.  

“We’re glad to help out our neighbors in Middlesex County and hope that next time MCFOODS has a food drive that you come out and support because everybody is in need and it’s our job to help one another,” said Janelle Apocu.

Donations can still be made. MCFOODS’ next food drive is Saturday, June 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Umiya Dham Temple, 1697 Oak Tree Road in Edison.

Dine Below the Line

“We’ve got another great event coming up on Thursday, June 3rd at 6 pm,” said Apostle. “It will be airing live on YouTube. The event is called Dine Below the Line. We have four amazing local chefs who will be participating virtually.”

Representing Team Piscataway are:

  • Chef Doug Wilson – Local caterer, food pantry volunteer and community activist who founded the Dine Below the Line concept 5 years ago while directing the Christ Church Food Pantry in New Brunswick.  
  • Chef Glen Rodriguez - joined the army straight out of high school and traveled the country before working for a national restaurant group in Florida and eventually becoming a chef here in Piscataway.  
  • Chef Matthew Smith - a Johnson and Wales graduate and local chef who in his leisure time enjoys umpiring youth baseball.

Their competitors are from New Brunswick, Spotswood and other areas in Middlesex County.

The teams of chefs have a $20 budget to feed a minimum of four people using items typically found in a food pantry.

“They’ll get extra points for the least amount of money they’re able to spend to feed the most amount of people, and for nutrition and creativity,” said Apostle. “We have some local judges who will be critiquing them. And those watching online will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite choice as well.”

To tune-in to Dine Below the Line on Thursday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m., click here to access the Event YouTube Link.

For more information visit the show’s Facebook Event Page.


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