As Middlesex County residents continue to deal with the devastating effects of the pandemic, we are extremely fortunate that supporters of Feeding Middlesex County – both individuals and the business community – continue to help those who fight food insecurity. During 2021, food insecurity remained high in Middlesex County at an estimated 12 percent of the population. To put this into perspective, that equates to 90,000 people which is approximately the population of Edison Township.
As the second chairperson of Feeding Middlesex County, I would like to recognize Jane Z. Brady, the first chairperson of Feeding Middlesex County. Without Jane’s leadership and dedication to helping our neighbors, Feeding Middlesex County would not have been able to make such a positive impact in the lives of those who struggle with food insecurity. In 2021, our total revenue included a large increase of in-kind donations (many varieties of food) for which we are very grateful. Because of the generosity of our friends, Feeding Middlesex County was also able to purchase $198,523 of food which was distributed by REPLENISH (formerly MCFOODS) to the 150 food pantries around Middlesex County.
While the medical community has worked tirelessly to move us from a pandemic to an endemic, we are now faced with the highest inflation in more than 30 years which means that the challenge to help those who are food insecure continues.
In addition to our financial supporters, I would also like to extend our thanks to the countless volunteers who help us to raise awareness of food insecurity in Middlesex County and collect and distribute food to our neighbors. A key group of volunteers are the members of the Board of Directors of Feeding Middlesex County and I extend my thanks to them also. Everyone’s help is vital to the mission of Feeding Middlesex County, which is to eliminate food insecurity in our county.
Kevin J. Hoagland
Kevin J. Hoagland, Chair
The year 2021 saw the continuing need for Feeding Middlesex County’s support of our food insecure residents. Food insecurity, defined by the US Department of Agriculture as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life,” remained at an astounding 12% in Middlesex County despite the partial reopening of schools and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents were also impacted by rising food prices and shortages making those already on the edge teeter to food insecurity. Contributing factors included job loss and insecurity, increased housing costs and social isolation. While eliminating food insecurity can only be addressed through major public policy initiatives, the immediate need of getting food to those who need it most falls to the emergency food system and our primary partner, REPLENISH, which distributes food purchased with funds and in-kind food donations provided by Feeding Middlesex County.
As an all-volunteer organization, Feeding Middlesex County’s board and volunteers work tirelessly to secure monetary funds as well as food donations to meet the growing needs of the 150 food pantries, soup kitchens, community centers and social service agencies reliant on the county’s food bank. Close to 92% of the funds raised by Feeding Middlesex County goes directly to the purchase of food and necessary items for the county food bank. Only 1.46% was used for administrative costs.
In addition to providing funding for food purchases, an important function of Feeding Middlesex County is to communicate the message of supporting our food insecure neighbors and continuously reach out to provide a means to others to join our efforts. We accomplish this with our monthly newsletter, which is distributed to close to 1,000 readers, targeted email messaging, and through our interactive website. These efforts have resulted in increased in-kind food donations in 2021 as well as increased grant funds.
With a limited return to in-person events, Feeding Middlesex County stood beside REPLENISH at its many food drives throughout the year raising awareness of food insecurity and collecting monetary funds.
It is only through a multi-prong, concerted effort that we can tackle food insecurity, and we are committed to adapting to changing conditions until we eradicate food insecurity in Middlesex County.
To end food insecurity in Middlesex County.
Feeding Middlesex County financially supports organizations that feed the hungry.
We raise funds to purchase food and equipment to assist qualifying agencies in procuring, storing, preserving and transporting food and other necessary items to our food insecure neighbors.
Feeding Middlesex County has grown since its 2017 start. The fundraising goal for the first full year of operations was $50,000, and we met that goal, slightly exceeding it. The onset of the COVID-19 crisis increased the food needs in Middlesex County, and our corporate and individual donors as well as the opportunity to receive public and private grants helped us meet these extreme challenges. In 2021, there was a robust response to our new level of need with revenues increasing, along with in-kind donations and grants creating a total revenue of over $587,000.
In 2021, the Middlesex County Commissioners rebranded MCFOODS, the county food bank, and created REPLENISH. The name better fulfills the mission of meeting the nutritional and basic needs of those served in the participating 150 food distribution organizations. REPLENISH continues to collaborate in its many partnerships, especially the partnership with Feeding Middlesex County, to work together to achieve the mission of ending food insecurity in Middlesex County.
MCFOODS was created more than 25 years ago. As a government entity, MCFOODS was not a 501(c)3 charity eligible for tax deductible donations, and it was required to follow public contract regulations, which sometimes proved difficult to act quickly for food emergencies. In 2017, Feeding Middlesex County came into existence as a 501(c)3 charity with the ability to collect funds that are tax deductible for the donors. The ability to negotiate the best prices for food purchases has enabled quick responses to food crises.
The Feeding Middlesex County/MCFOODS partnership (and now REPLENISH) has been very successful and the over 150 food pantries, non-profits and social service organizations participating have been better-served.
With donations and grant monies, Feeding Middlesex County purchases food for REPLENISH, the county food bank, and in turn, the food is distributed to the 150 participating food pantries and social service agencies. Feeding Middlesex County also accepts food donations known as in-kind donations that are also distributed via REPLENISH. The 150 food distributors cover all 25 municipalities in Middlesex County. The participating agencies meet REPLENISH criteria including being an official 501(c)3 or house of worship, having food services open to eligible recipients and other relevant standards. Significant due diligence is carried out so that those donating to Feeding Middlesex County are assured that funds are going directly to the cause.
Feeding Middlesex County provided grants to 15 participating agencies in 2021. These grants, ranging from $500 to $4,975, enabled agencies to purchase refrigeration, freezers, shelving, shopping carts, bins, a truck liftgate and a trash shed. In general, the grants aided the food pantries to operate more efficiently.
View all the agencies supported by Feeding Middlesex County/REPLENISH and find one in your community using our interactive spreadsheet below.
TOTAL REVENUE: $587,819
Reflecting Increases of In-Kind Donations and Grants
Revenue and Expenses are listed in the 2021 Audit of Feeding Middlesex County – Statement of Activities.
We would like to thank the donors who have financially supported Feeding Middlesex County in 2021. Your donations during this year were crucial to our ability to meet the increasing need for food at local food pantries, community centers and other organizations throughout Middlesex County.
Kevin J. Hoagland
Giamarese Farms &
Farmers Against Hunger
Middlesex County Commissioner
Rutgers Collaborative Center For Community Engagement
Retired Pharmacist & Businessman
Retired Pharmaceutical Marketer
Daria Anne Venezia
Feeding Middlesex County’s committees are comprised of board members as well as volunteers from the community. In addition to the Finance and Communications Committees, there are committees to plan and execute events, both in person and virtually. Our committee members are creative and motivated, and their work involves teamwork and dedicated community service.
The Communications Committee oversees the creation and maintenance of the Feeding Middlesex County website, social media channels and publications. Its work is based on marketing goals and brand strategies that achieve the fundraising objectives with the ultimate goal of ending food insecurity in Middlesex County.
Members: Jane Leal, Jennifer Apostol, Jane Z. Brady, Yamille Chaves, George Francy, Amy Michael, Neil Wolf
Communications Associate: Sylvie Leal
The Finance Committee implements the fundraising goals instituted by the Feeding Middlesex County Board, including the creation and implementation of specific fundraising projects and events. The Committee concentrates on how to engage corporate and individual donors. Additionally, it focuses on completing research for possible foundation grant opportunities. Members of the community are welcome to serve on this committee.
Members: Margaret Pemberton, Kevin J. Hoagland, Camille Mahon, Douglas Petix, Stu Schwartz
In late 2021, COVID-19 restrictions loosened somewhat so that we were able to have volunteers at many of the outdoor events such as drive-by food drives and other events. REPLENISH continued to distribute food and personal products five days a week, and the volunteers from the 150 food pantries and social service agencies were able to pick up food often, putting in extra hours. There were also extended hours for distributing the food at many of the organizations served via REPLENISH and Feeding Middlesex County.
For the second year in a row, local artist Isabelle Goldman continued to create oil paintings which she sold at holiday time, and the proceeds of the sales were donated to Feeding Middlesex County. Ms. Goldman had previously volunteered at the county food bank but had to stop due to COVID-19 restrictions for volunteering. She used her creativity to continue to support the fight to end food insecurity in Middlesex County.
Isabelle Goldman created oil paintings to help raise funds for Feeding Middlesex County.
Volunteers from over 150 food pantries are hard at work to help end food insecurity in Middlesex County.
We partner with REPLENISH in our fight to end hunger. In addition to their hard-working staff, a small army of volunteers for Feeding Middlesex County and REPLENISH are essential to making this work happen. This section describes just a few examples of that dedication.
Although somewhat restricted by COVID-19 protocols in 2021, Feeding Middlesex County was able to participate in outdoor events with REPLENISH, raising over $8,000 in cash donations as well as more than 61,000 pounds of donated food. These events included:
Feeding Middlesex County has partnered with REPLENISH (formerly MCFOODS) and other community organizations to present the hunger awareness event, Dine Below the Line. In 2021, due to COVID-19 restrictions, this event went virtual. Held on June 3, it was organized as a cooking competition with 4 participating chefs using ingredients normally found in food pantry distributions and turning them into healthy, gourmet dishes. The virtual locations were St. Peter’s Church, Spotswood, New Brunswick and Piscataway. Besides the live audience viewing the event, there have been over 1,000 views of the event online. Almost $3,000 in donations were received by Feeding Middlesex County.
Annually, Feeding Middlesex County and REPLENISH recognize the outstanding efforts of those who are heroes in the fight against food insecurity in Middlesex County. In 2021, we honored:
Government Hunger Hero – Awarded posthumously to Commissioner Kenneth Armwood for his dedication to eradicating food insecurity in Middlesex County. Commissioner Armwood was dedicated to improving the community and we miss his enthusiasm and devotion to our cause.
Community Hunger Hero – Awarded to Isabelle Goldman. In addition to volunteering at the MCFOODS/REPLENISH warehouse, Ms. Goldman created a fundraising program using her creative talent. She offered oil paintings on canvas to friends and family during the holidays and all funds were donated to Feeding Middlesex County.
Corporate Hunger Hero – Awarded to Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages. The company has donated more than 450,000 pounds of product to the REPLENISH/MCFOODS operation. Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages employees have participated as volunteers in food drives and at the food bank facility.
The Tom Ellison Food Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero Award – Nominations were received from partner food pantries, and the family of the late warehouse manager Tom Ellison selected the winner. Tom Ellison passed away in 2020. His dedication to fighting food insecurity was unparalleled. Betty Crews of Peter’s Pantry in Perth Amboy received the award. Her dedication to volunteering at the pantry, her ability in improving pantry operations and her never-ending effort to improve the lives of others is noted.
Kenneth Armwood | Commissioner
Pictured is Kenneth Armwood (center) with REPLENISH volunteers.
Isabelle Goldman | Artist and Fund Raiser
Ms. Goldman created a fundraising program using her gift of painting.
Betty Crews | Peter’s Pantry Volunteer
Pictured is Betty Crews (center) receiving The Tom Ellison Food Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero Award.
Of course, Feeding Middlesex County partners with REPLENISH and the Middlesex County Commissioners to efficiently and effectively provide food to those facing food insecurity in Middlesex County.
We would like to thank our other partners who have donated food, money, supplies and their volunteer time in support of our effort to alleviate food insecurity throughout Middlesex County. These partners consist of individuals, small businesses, major corporations, banks, civic groups, engineering firms, faith-based organizations, food insecurity stakeholders as well as a number of children’s teams and clubs. The number of monthly contributors grew in 2021.
Middlesex County Commissioners
Ronald G. Rios, Director
Shanti Narra, Deputy Director
Claribel A. Azcona-Barber
Chanelle Scott McCullum
Charles E. Tomaro
Department of Community Services
Meghan Davey, Department Head
Continue to encourage repeat donors and build upon our relationship with past donors
Encourage new donors
Provide more in-person fundraising and educational events when appropriate
Increase the number of grant opportunities
Maintain the updated website and keep expanding social media reach
Continue to focus on engagement with the donor base and food insecurity stakeholders through the monthly newsletter and email communications
Keep expanding the Ambassador Program
2021 saw a transition from the COVID-19 isolation to some opening-up, but the need for food has not substantially decreased. This situation will continue to be monitored closely in 2022 to determine food needs.
Feeding Middlesex County must keep up the momentum for monetary and food donations to provide support to those that are food insecure. We continue to be reliant on the generosity of the community, and this will continue to be true in 2022.
We are so grateful that our local residents, businesses and community organizations understand this transition period, and we value their dedication to helping us feed the hungry.