MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ — The Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (MCFOODS) today received a donation of 1,500 Thanksgiving turkeys which were distributed to two dozen partner agencies throughout the County, helping feed families throughout Middlesex County this Thanksgiving. The turkeys were delivered to MCFOODS’ distribution center on Kennedy Boulevard in East Brunswick this morning by the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, who received the turkeys via Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express program.
“In a year when food insecurity has increased sharply throughout the State and the rate of food insecurity among children has nearly doubled in Middlesex County, we are incredibly grateful for this donation,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “Because of Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express program, thousands of Middlesex County residents can celebrate one of our country’s most beloved traditions: a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. On behalf of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, I thank Stop & Shop for their donation, Community FoodBank of New Jersey for their coordination in this effort, and former New York Giants players Joe Morris, David Tyree, and Jonathan Casillas for their assistance in off-loading these turkeys at the MCFOODS Distribution Center this morning.”The Turkey Express is an annual event that involves community outreach from the Community Foodbank, Stop & Shop, and the Alumni Legends of the New York Giants. Big Blue's Running Back #20 Joe Morris said that he was proud of the efforts of the Giants and Stop & Shop to reach out to the community. "Giving food to people at this time is important, especially during the pandemic when many people have lost their jobs. People are struggling. We are athletes, but we are also part of the community. We are thankful to help others. The New York Giants charity groups reach out because they are part of the community."
Morris is recognized as one of the Top 50 New York Giants by the Bleacher Report. "Joe Morris was your prototypical running back during the 1980s era. He was never underappreciated by the fans or his coach. He had three 1000 yard seasons with the Giants and was a great asset on offense to the 1986 Super Bowl team. In 1985, he had over 1300 yards and led the league with 21 touchdowns. He then exploded in the 1986 season with over 1500 yards in 15 games, averaging 101 yards per game and had 14 rushing touchdowns. He was great in his seven years with the Giants. He made two Pro Bowls as well as led the franchise in rushing."
Morris was joined by Jonathan Casillas, a 2005 graduate of New Brunswick High School, who said, "We are here to spread love from a distance." Linebacker Jonathan Casillas #52 has hosted the Forward Progress football camp at New Brunswick Middle School since 2014 where students learn both football and life skills. Casillas spoke admiringly of his fellow local athlete Malcolm Jenkins, a graduate of Piscataway High School, who also gives his time to raise up local youth in Middlesex County: "We work together with athletes from our own communities to help them move forward with strength and character."
Giants Wide Receiver #85 David Tyree, represented as an athlete and the author of More than Just the Catch: "A story of mistakes and second chances. Of hard work, perseverance, and faith. A story of love. And ultimately a story of grace.It’s a story that teaches us that no matter how many times life knocks us down, we can come back…and we can win." Tyree, who though had only five catches during the regular season, made a game-changing catch off his own helmet in the 2008 Super Bowl game against the New England Patriots.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sharp increase in food insecurity in Middlesex County and nationwide. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, MCFOODS has organized food distribution events and food collection events, all contact-free and socially distanced, to combat the severe need in the County. To date, MCFOODS has received and distributed over 3.9 million pounds of food so far in 2020 as compared with 2.2 million pounds in all of 2019.
“Stop & Shop is proud to make this donation and help so many Middlesex County residents in need,” said Stefanie Shuman, Community Relations Manager for Stop & Shop. “We’re thankful for partners like Community FoodBank of New Jersey and MCFOODS who share in and support our commitment to eradicate hunger in the communities we serve.”
This holiday season, Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express program will deliver more than 21,000 turkeys to hunger relief organizations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. This decades-old donation campaign is larger this year as a result of the increased need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"More of our New Jersey neighbors than ever before may not have access to holiday meals this year," said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. "I'm grateful to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their partnership throughout the pandemic, Stop & Shop for their turkey donation and ongoing support, and former New York Giants Players Joe Morris, David Tyree, and Jonathan Casillas for their help at this morning's distribution. Together, we are ensuring special Thanksgiving meals for those who need it most."
Feeding America reports a dramatic increase in hunger in New Jersey since the start of the pandemic in March:
- 56% increase in food insecurity throughout New Jersey a result of COVID-19--an additional 432,000 residents.
- This rate is higher than the national average of 46% and greater than any of New Jersey's neighboring states.
- The projected food insecurity rate has risen from 8.2% to 12.9%.
- The increase in child hunger in New Jersey is particularly startling--the rate has risen 75% due to COVID-19 (up to 1 in 5 children from 1 in 9).
- In Middlesex County, the child food insecurity rate has nearly doubled - 18.4% from a pre-pandemic level of 10.2%.
Beginning in the closet of a park police building in Roosevelt Park in Edison in 1994, MCFOODS has since expanded into a 5,000 square foot warehouse in East Brunswick. MCFOODS provides nonperishable foods and necessities to our network of over 120 partner organizations throughout the 25 towns in Middlesex County to ensure that all residents always have access to nutritionally adequate food and necessities. In the early years, MCFOODS received and distributed 92,000 pounds of nonperishable foods and necessities to about 30 partner agencies. In 2019, MCFOODS received and distributed over 2.2 million pounds of food including fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to over 130 partners. A database of agencies that can provide emergency food can be found at this link.
About Community FoodBank of New Jersey
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), a member of Feeding America®, has been delivering food, help and hope across the state for 45 years. Last year, CFBNJ provided nutritious food for over 66 million meals through its network of more than 1,000 community partners including pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, mobile pantries, and child and senior feeding programs throughout the 11 New Jersey counties it directly serves (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union). For our hungry neighbors, the Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the powerful agent of change that fills the emptiness caused by hunger and provides resources that are essential to earning a sustainable living.
About Stop & Shop
A neighborhood grocer for more than 100 years, today’s Stop & Shop is refreshed, reenergized and inspired, delivering new conveniences for customers. Committed to helping its communities enjoy better food and better lives, Stop & Shop has a longstanding history of giving back to the neighborhoods it serves with a focus on fighting hunger and pediatric cancer care and research. The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC is an Ahold Delhaize USA Company and employs nearly 60,000 associates and operates over 400 stores throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. To learn more about Stop & Shop, visit www.stopandshop.com.