MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ  Hunger know no specific location during challenging economic times.  According to Middlesex County Food Bank's Warehouse manager Tom Ellison, on Monday afternoon, 10 50-pound bins of surplus food were all that remained at the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services’ East Brunswick site.  

MCFOODS has recently opened a site on Ryder's Lane that distributes food and basic needs on Tuesdays and Fridays to those in need of support.

The East Brunswick football team loaded up for the Food Bank this summer, but there is still a great deal of need to be addressed.  “We can’t give enough thanks to the individuals, businesses and organizations that continually help bring in food for the needy and underprivileged resident of our county,” said Jennifer Apostol, a project manager with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, which oversees MCFOODS.  “But we’re losing more and more independent food drives and it’s difficult to overlook.”

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Twice each week, more than 40 representatives from pantries, soup kitchens, churches and social service agencies across the County file into MCFOODS warehouse for scheduled distributions.

On average, they collectively leave with a total of 30,000 pounds of food for the thousands of clients that they routinely serve.

In recent weeks, dwindling donations have reduced that number to around 20,000 pounds, forcing MCFOODS to stretch their resources thin.

“There are no communities immune from poverty and hunger,” Apostol said.  

Organizers are calling on everyone from businesses owners to school and church leaders to community groups and sports teams to sponsor a food drive.

While MCFOODS provides collection bins, flyers and pick-up and delivery, Apostol understands that not everyone has the capabilities to take on this challenge.

But for those individuals, there are alternatives, she says.

Apostol notes several permanent library drop-off sites that are scattered throughout the County, including those in East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Milltown, Monroe, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Amboy and Woodbridge.  EBPL's donation box is right near the front door and donations are accepted daily.

Another avenue for giving might be donating to locally-sponsored MCFOODS drives.

One to keep in mind is the upcoming East Brunswick High School’s 33rd Annual Marching Band Competition and Food Drive, which will take place on Oct. 24 at the Jay Doyle Football Field, 380 Cranbury Road.  The event is a major fundraiser for the band program, but it also serves an an opportunity for band supporters to "give back" to the community.