MADISON, NJ - With more than 200 volunteers Saturday morning taking up the entire gym floor at St. Vincent Martyr School in Madison, the group surpassed their goal of 50,000 meals to provide 51,968 meals in the The Madison Rotary Club and Foundation's End Hunger 3.6 Project of 2016.
The morning began with an invocation from Father George Hundt, pastor of St. Vincent Martyr Church, followed by an introduction by Ellsworth Havens, Chair of the event, and instructions for the packaging process by Dean Porter, President of "HUNGER FIGHT" from Jacksonville, Florida, the team who orchestrated the event. Music was provided by DJ Mike Savage.
It was a well-oiled machine.
"I have never seen such a well run program," said Carmella Moeller, communications chair of the Madison Rotary Club. "The Hunger Fight team from Florida was just amazing, they are so organized."
Volunteers were made up of Madison Rotarians as well as members from various clubs and organizations in town. Many young kids also provided assistance in the efforts, including an eighth-grade team from St. Vincent Martyr School.
"The number 3.6 indicates that every 3.6 seconds, someone dies of malnutrition or starvation. The project’s goal is to prepare and package between 100,000 – 150,000 meals to be distributed to various non-profit, hunger-focused organizations throughout New Jersey and New York City," added Moeller.
"The number of people who go hungry and who are in need of assistance in finding a meal in the New Jersey and New York City area continues to rise. In New Jersey alone, the number of people living below the poverty level is over one million. One in 5 children in New Jersey is hungry and relying on food stamps to provide daily meals. In New York City, a record number of homeless shelters to accommodate over 60,000 individuals, including 25,000 children was set in 2014," said the Fight Hunger organization.
The agencies currently identified as recipients of the packaged meals are the New Jersey Salvation Army; The Table of Hope and the Market Street Mission in Morristown; Eva’s Village in Paterson; St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark; and the Bowery Mission in New York City. Combined they represent over forty sites, in NJ and NYC, that will feed and provide food to the hungry.
"The Florida team expected that the 2 millionth meal to date would be packaged right here this morning at St. Vincent's by one of our volunteers," Moeller said.