Giving Back

Stuff the Bus Loads up For Thanksgiving Season

 Temple Beth Shalom preschool's fresh food drive
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Collins Principal, John Leister Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld
Credits: Jodi Rothfeld

LIVINGSTON, NJ - On Thursday, Oct. 17, volunteers hit the road to once again Stuff the Bus for CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse).  This time, the bus travelled to all of Livingston’s elementary schools, Mount Pleasant Middle School, Livingston High School, Temple Beth Shalom Preschool, Aquinas Academy and Kings Market, allowing 30 families--including seven senior--to receive groceries within the next few days. CHOW was also able to send food to three pantries in the area which were in need of more food supplies.

“It’s wonderful to see the generosity of our families and the enthusiasm of our children for this project. Not only do they learn the importance of helping others in need in our own community, but Stuff the Bus also offered another opportunity to talk to our children about healthy eating,” said Temple Beth Shalom Preschool Director Randi Cohen.

The temple preschool organized a fresh produce drive and were successful in collecting more than 30 grocery bags of fruits and vegetables while Kings Market made it easy for shoppers to purchase extra items for Stuff the Bus as they checked out during the week before the event.  Thanks to shoppers, Kings was able to hand over 12 wagons filled with healthy food items.

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Livingston public schools were committed to collecting healthy, non-perishable goods as well.

At Collins, second and fourth graders participated in an assembly held by Principal John Leister where they were praised for their generosity and taught more about the importance of helping those who are in need. The assembly ended with all students picking up an item of food and stuffing it on the bus.

Riker Hill Elementary kids were tasked with focusing on obtaining the most needed items for CHOW.

They encouraged their students to not only Stuff the Bus but to also participate in the first ever “CHOPPED for CHOW”.  Based on the popular food network series, CHOPPED, Riker challenged their families to take at least one item from the "most needed basket of ingredients" and turn it into a low budget, healthy dish (Appetizer, Entree or Dessert) that can be easily prepared. Similar to the TV show, families had access to their own pantry and refrigerator to enhance their recipes.

Riker Hill kids collected many recipes and will present CHOW with a cookbook compiled of “Riker Hill Recipes: healthy eating on a budget” in honor of food day.

Mount Pleasant, Harrison, Hillside and Burnet Hill elementary schools assigned each grade a food category to focus on bringing.

Sister Barbara of St. Philomena’s Church described the collection as “high quality”.

“I am simply amazed and just incredibly appreciative when I see all the recent donations that have come to the pantry through Stuff the Bus.  Being the third stuff the bus event for CHOW, I thought that the excitement would be less this time around, however, it seems the exact opposite has happened as I believe this is the best one yet.  And what is even more amazing is that the quality of items donated is right in line with what is most needed for families.  Thank you Livingston!”  

Sister Barbara was also so pleased that so many people and families have now been exposed to CHOW and know it as a place to give for those who have resources to help and to receive for those who fall on tough times.  “It was just two years ago that I would tell people about CHOW and they had no idea what I was talking about.  Now, I see kids and they chant ‘Stuff the Bus’- its just great.  And we have had an increase in donations as well as an increase in families coming for help.”

Stuff the Bus was coordinated through Livingston’s Food Day committee which continues to support CHOW’s efforts as a big part of their work.  CHOW serves as a resource for both those who wish to share what they have and for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Supported by many Livingston houses of worship, CHOW is an inter-faith ministry of the Livingston Clergy Association. Housed at St. Philomena's Church and run by Sister Barbara Howard, CHOW is open to local residents (and those in surrounding towns), of all faiths, on a drop-in basis.

Contact Sister Barbara at (973) 992-1382 for additional information and like CHOW’s facebook page  to get updates on CHOW.   

For more information on Food Day, email Stacey Rubinstein at and like Food Day’s facebook page.

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