SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Just a week or so before the Thanksgiving holiday finds the township’s food pantry critically low on food and monetary donations, Social Services Director Jeanne Wert said Tuesday.

“It is really surprising,” Wert said. “I’m not really sure what is going on.”

Wert said that food donation drives for the holiday season, starting in September, usually replenish the pantry along with financial donations to help the community’s needy families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Both school district student and Boy Scouts collections during events and at local supermarkets have collected significantly less this year compared to prior drives.

Financial donations taken in since the beginning of the year are about $40,000, or 40 percent less than last year when the pantry raised about $105,000 during 2015, Wert said.

Wert said normally the first drive weekend for the Boy Scouts usually “inundates” the pantry, but even after splitting that drive through several weekends, there have not been as many food products taken in.

“We’re just not getting the volume of food from those (weekend drive) donations,” Wert said. “We are not getting the volume (of food) from the schools either.”

Due to changes in the school district’s calendar this year, the collections took place later in the year, but were still below previous levels, Wert said.

Wert said the food pantry, as always, is grateful for the generosity of the community, but is concerned that while the demand, although a bit lower this year, is still at the high levels of the last several years with more than 100 families listed to get help during the holidays.

“Our demand is a little bit lower,” Wert said. “We have less people (right now), but we are anticipating more people will sign up.”

So far, the agency distributed Thanksgiving boxes to 85 families with children and are now distributing to adult clients without children, she said.

She said the pantry is low on coffee, boxed milk (Parmalat), peanut butter, jelly, canned tomatoes- dried or peeled tomatoes, cranberry sauce, chicken broth, pancake mix, syrup, canned potatoes, corn muffin mix, canned meats, canned beans, spaghetti sauce, rice, personal products- toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, stuffing, side dishes, oatmeal and paper goods - toilet paper, paper towels.

Donations can be made at various businesses throughout the community or at the Municipal Building on Route 522 during normal business hours during the week.

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