PATERSON, NJ - This June marks the 20th anniversary of Curbing Hunger, a community-based program that collects food for the hungry at times of the year when food pantry supplies are low. In honor of this milestone, Curbing Hunger is expanding its Somerset County roots to serve families all over New Jersey through an online, statewide food drive. Curbing Hunger is partnering with Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr., Congressman Leonard Lance, AmpYourGood.com, CUMAC, and other agencies and businesses throughout the state to make this a reality.
The statewide drive arrives at a critical time for food pantries. With schools out of session for the summer, many children will be losing access to school-provided breakfast and lunch. Families struggling to make ends meet will need to stretch their budgets even further during the summer months. This leads to growing demand for food pantry assistance at a time when food donations are dangerously low. For struggling families and the food pantries that help them, this can be overwhelming.
CUMAC is Passaic County’s largest food pantry and has been serving residents in New Jersey since the late 1970’s. According to pantry staff, the need for assistance is now greater than ever. CUMAC is serving over 2,800 clients every month and has expanded its operations to include a mobile and satellite pantry in an effort to reach underserved populations.
“For kids, the last day of school should be exciting. But a growing number of children see the last day of school as their last day with a steady meal. They look towards the summer with fear because they don’t know if they’ll have enough to eat. At the same time, pantries like CUMAC see our donations drop to almost nothing. It gets very hard to feed all who come to us during the summer; it’s heartbreaking to see so many hungry kids and to not have enough to help them.” says Rev. Pat Bruger, CUMAC Executive Director.
CUMAC’s situation echoes that of countless other pantries and hunger organizations. The Curbing Hunger drive provides the opportunity to take action at a time when hunger is reaching an all-time high in New Jersey. According to Feeding America’s 2014 Map the Meal Gap report, nearly 1 in 6 children in New Jersey are now struggling with food insecurity. This month’s drive aims to bring some much-needed support.
Participating groups are hopeful that the convenience of the Curbing Hunger campaign will encourage others to join. “It’s so exciting to partner with companies through an online food drive. It’s easy for anyone to get involved and watch their impact grow. They don’t even need to handle the food, AmpYourGood takes care of trucking and drop off. On our end, we’re just hoping that the donations are enough to get us through the summer.” says Stephanie Ames, Community Engagement Coordinator for CUMAC.
The online food drive started on Sunday, June 1 and will run until the end of the month. Curbing Hunger is still searching for additional partners. It is not too late to host a collection to help fight summer hunger. Anyone wishing to contribute or learn more can visit www.curbinghunger2014.org. For more information on CUMAC, please call Leigh Ross at 973-742-5518 or visit www.cumacecho.org.