SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - The Curbing Hunger program, which has so far collected almost 50,000 pounds of food, has been extended through July in an attempt to raise even more.

Curbing Hunger Inc. is a non-profit organization based in Somerset County with a mission to raise food to supply hunger organizations during times, particularly June, when donations are low.

According to a release from the county, this year is the 20th consecutive year of the annual campaign to help New Jersey residents during the summer, when donations are notoriously low.

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Since it began, the campaign has raised more than 2 million pounds of food to help New Jersey residents.

The 2014 campaign, the release said, is called “A Garden State Kind of Food Drive” and emphasizes the ability for people to donate fresh produce in addition to regular non-perishable goods.

The campaign has currently been extended to the end of July.

“What we are hearing from most food assistance organizations is great concern that they won’t have enough food on hand to serve the people and communities they support, and most are reporting that the number of people they serve continues to grow,” said Chuck Knill, president of Curbing Hunger Inc., in the release.

Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. announced his support for the campaign’s Essex County partner, MEND, which operates 18 food pantries in Essex County.

“School is out, summer break has begun and many people are leaving for vacation,” Payne said in the release. “There is not a holiday season in the summer where people stop and think to give to those who are less fortunate. There are many in our community who are in dire need, and over the last few years, the number of families who struggle to make ends meet has risen.  So we are making it even easier for people to give and support those in need through MEND’s online donation shopping service.” 

According to the release, people can visit to purchase the food they want to donate and which organization they want to support.

“One thing we’ve been very encouraged about are groups that are finding out about the campaign and deciding to run their own Curbing Hunger food drive,” Knill said in the release. “William Paterson University just started their online food drive to support CUMAC, another of our campaign partners.  We’re hoping to see a few more groups decide to get involved now that we’ve extended the campaign by a month.”