For CUMAC, a local non-profit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in New Jersey, feeding thousands of hungry clients every month means that food must be picked up on a daily basis. CUMAC has a driving team that makes it possible, but with an aging fleet of vehicles, the staff made acquiring a replacement truck a top priority in 2018.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Order of St. John Commandery of New York and donation from the Soechting family, made in memory of their mother Elisabeth, CUMAC recently purchased a new truck that will help the organization transport food and other vital resources for the next several years.
The announcement is welcome news for CUMAC’s senior driver, Bert Salino, who spends most of his days behind the wheel, collecting and distributing food around the community. “We take good care of our vehicles, but with a truck that’s almost 20 years old, I dread that one day I’m going to be stuck on the road” says Salino. “With this new truck, I feel much more secure. It’s a great feeling.” Salino is particularly excited about the ability to drive further on his daily routes to get extra items that clients can enjoy.
The process of finding a truck took several months for CUMAC, as the staff searched for vehicles that would fit the organization’s unique needs. CUMAC regularly picks up large donations, often full of perishable items like produce and meat, so keeping these items fresh is essential. Supported by Wayne Morse of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Rick McLaughlin of Trucksmart Isuzu, CUMAC was able to find a truck with a refrigeration unit and plenty of space to handle the team’s busy pick up schedule.
CUMAC served over 30,000 people last year through its pantry and mobile pantry, and because of the volume of fresh produce and baked goods received, CUMAC was able to provide surplus fresh food to an additional 35,000 others. A reliable, refrigerated vehicle is integral to CUMAC’s ability to transport and process over half a million pounds of fresh produce annually. CUMAC’s clients regularly rely on these items to keep their families healthy while also staving off hunger.
“Having a new, state of the art truck to now serve as our workhorse guarantees that CUMAC will continue to pick up, move, and store even more food without having to worry about large maintenance or repair issues” says Mark Dinglasan, CUMAC Executive Director. “It's also another important step towards growing CUMAC as an organization and ensuring our continued sustainability for years to come.”
CUMAC’s new 18 foot box truck will arrive later this month and will immediately be put to use, transporting resources from various groups, businesses, and partners throughout the area.
“We’re so grateful to the Soechting family and the Order of St. John Commandery of New York for helping us feed people and change lives” says Dinglasan. “CUMAC is able to serve so many thanks to support from the community.”
CUMAC provides a range of other services for community members struggling with hunger and poverty. CUMAC’s programs include a food pantry that serves over 2,500 people monthly; a food depot that handles over 1.4 million pounds of food and other resources for a network of over 30 agencies; a disaster relief program; a thrift shop that provides high quality, low cost items to the community; the Pathways to Work program that offers job training to those seeking gainful employment; Place of Promise which provides a permanent supportive housing program for the chronically homeless; seasonal projects that gives school supplies and other items to thousands of children in need; and the Community Food Coalition, a collection of pantries working together to stop hunger in New Jersey. For more information please visit www.cumac.org.