HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Hunterdon County Commissioners Shaun Van Doren, Deputy Director Jeff Kuhl, and Director Zach Rich joined county staff on Wednesday to unload hundreds of pounds of donated food at the Flemington Area Food Pantry.
The early morning delivery was the culmination of a just over two-week food drive sponsored by the county staff to promote National Canned Food Month and raise awareness of the rising need for food assistance due to rising prices brought about by inflation and ongoing supply chain disruptions resulting from the pandemic.
National Canned Food Month is designed to highlight the importance of canned foods which have sustained Americans during the World Wars, the Great Depression, and cold winters when fresh crops were scarce. Food banks, non-profits, faith-based, and community organizations are constantly seeking to increase their stock of canned goods to help communities, whether it’s for the homeless, struggling families, or children in need.
The Flemington Food Pantry is primarily a volunteer run organization with 450 community members who devoted over 32,000 hours of service in 2022. Last year the Food Pantry was visited 13,874 times, which is the highest number in the Pantry’s forty-year history. Although the Food Pantry had seen record numbers, volunteers were able to provide enough food for Hunterdon County residents to prepare over 392,600 meals.
The Flemington Area Food Pantry also welcomed over 560 new families and countless volunteers in 2022, and saw an increase of over 90% in utilization by senior citizens over the last five years. Volunteers at the Pantry also expanded their operations which resulted in the delivery of over 1,600 meal kits to community members who were sick, quarantined, or had no transportation.
Commissioner Shaun Van Doren reflecting on the donation said, “My colleagues and I on the Commissioner Board were moved by the generosity of this staff led initiative. In total, the County staff collected a total of 354 pounds in nonperishable food which was immediately put on the shelves for use by those in need.”
“Wanting to do more to highlight National Canned Food month, county staff setup several food donation drop boxes at the entrances to several County buildings to help fight hunger in the community.” Kuhl said. “Many of our County employees are also residents of Hunterdon County and they care about our community and its collective success.”
The Commissioners also recently presented Jeannine Gorman, the Executive Director of the Flemington Area Food Pantry, and her staff with a proclamation and the first check of an overall $77,851 grant award from the Commissioner Board to help fund expanded operations to meet the growing community need.
The Hunterdon County Commissioners have made significant investments in addressing hunger throughout the County, including dedicating a significant amount of funds received from The American Rescue Plan toward this issue. These investments include individual grant awards to both America’s Grow A Row for $144,000 and the Flemington Area Food Pantry for $77,851.
“The grant funds awarded to Flemington Area Food Pantry will help to fund the needed infrastructure to meet the growing community need and ensure the ongoing availability of food and personal care products for those in need,” Rich said.
“We are grateful to the numerous volunteers and staff at the Flemington Area Food Pantry for their ongoing service and dedication to addressing hunger throughout Hunterdon County,” Van Doren said.