Hundreds of children from needy families receive hot breakfast and lunch during the school year through subsidized school meal programs. When schools close for summer vacation, these meals are not available, and low-income families are often unable to fill the void, many having to make the choice between paying rent or going hungry.
The Volunteer Center’s Business Volunteer Connect (BVC) coordinated a summer food drive with both its member companies and other interested companies, to collect “kid-friendly”, non-perishable breakfast and lunch food items. The food collected during this initiative, entitled “Brown Bag Buddies”, was delivered to the Center for Food Action and other local food pantries.
“The wages of the working poor have not kept up with housing, transportation and child care costs. Northern New Jersey has the highest child poverty rates in the state. Without school meals, families must turn to the food pantries to provide nutritional meals for their children,” says Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center.
Eleven companies took part in this year’s initiative, collecting and distributing over 4,000 lbs of food, as well as donated cash. Included in that total was 263 lbs. of food collected at the BVC’s Night at the Races fundraiser, where 205 guests donated cereal, mac & cheese and other kid-friendly food, and raised nearly $15,000. Total value of food/cash distributed was almost $75,000.
The sponsors for this year’s drive were Bank of New Jersey, BD, Community Bank of Bergen County, Konica Minolta, KPMG, Rockland Electric, Sealed Air and United Water.