PATERSON, NJ - CUMAC celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, marking three decades of fighting hunger in northern New Jersey. Incorporated in 1985, CUMAC first operated as a volunteer-run organization, working out of a borrowed church closet and providing groceries to a few dozen families. Since then CUMAC has grown to become a multi-service agency, serving over 3,000 low-income residents monthly from a 28,000 square foot facility in downtown Paterson. In honor of the milestone, CUMAC will be hosting several events throughout the year to celebrate its anti-hunger work in New Jersey.
Reverend Pat Bruger, CUMAC’s Executive Director, has been in charge of the organization for 25 years. Her experience with the organization has ranged from packing food bags and delivering groceries when short staffed to developing community programs and leading dialogue and advocacy measures around hunger and poverty. Over her tenure CUMAC has experienced a growing demand for its services. Recent years have been even more taxing. In 2014, CUMAC provided food to over 40,000 people, the highest total in its thirty-year history. Bruger stresses how vital supporters and local partners have been to serving the rising number of clients: “Without them, none of this would be possible.” she says. “We want to thank all those who are helping us feed people and change lives day in and day out.”
The organization’s history of collaboration has created an environment for community members, pantries and businesses to share resources to better serve residents at-risk of going hungry. New programs and opportunities have become possible through these efforts. Along with its three pantry sites, CUMAC now provides job training, disaster relief, supportive housing, and partner pantry support to the community. CUMAC has also been a voice for the community in many ways, advocating for hunger to be addressed in the state budget, rallying support for SNAP and Breakfast after the Bell, and leading a collection of local pantries called the Community Food Coalition.
At a time when 1 in 7 New Jersey residents face food insecurity, Bruger is proud of the work being done to aid struggling families. “Poverty and hunger are becoming more pervasive and complex, but we’re confident that with our years of experience and unwavering support base, CUMAC will continue to protect our community from food insecurity and find effective ways to meet the needs of our neighbors.” she says.
As the yearlong celebration begins, community members will be able to participate in the milestone. In the months ahead there will be many opportunities to commemorate past accomplishments and to work toward a future without hunger. The celebration starts in February with CUMAC’s 18th annual Have-a-Heart Luncheon & Auction, where attendees will have the opportunity to bid on over 50 prize items. The event will be held at St. Clare’s Parish in Clifton, NJ on Saturday, February 14. Supporters can also celebrate CUMAC’s milestone by attending a New Jersey Devils Game Fundraiser on Friday, February 20 at the Prudential Center. Proceeds from the events will be donated to CUMAC.
Additional events are to be announced when dates are confirmed, including a logo redesign contest and 5K race. To register for an event or to learn more about CUMAC’s work in the community, please visit www.cumacecho.org or call 973-742-5518.
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