AVON-BY-THE-SEA — Thousands of pounds of food were collected this weekend during a food drive held Saturday to help Fulfill, previously known as the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County.
Between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., 4,631 pounds of non-perishable food items were donated, enough to provide 3,860 meals, Mayor Ed Bannano said Monday. Borough residents and those nearby were invited to drop off food items at the Avon First Aid and Rescue Squad building at 515 Main St.
According to the mayor, Fulfill reached out to municipalities in Monmouth and Ocean counties to help out.
“They are really overwhelmed. There are a lot of people in need,” the mayor said. “With COVID and with so many people having a tough time economically and losing jobs and not working full time, there are a lot of demands on the food bank.”
It was then that the borough and the first aid squad decided to join forces to collect food, assisted by officers of the police department and volunteers from the borough’s department of works.
“Nobody is on the clock. Everyone is here to help,” James Outwater, vice president of the first aid squad, said of the volunteers who took donations from residents and piled them into a truck destined for the food bank.
The drive proved successful early on, with “hundreds” donating within hours of the food drive start, Mr. Outwater added.
“I think all the citizens have been very generous with the food. We have seen a lot of people who have gone to the store and brought food to bring here, not just cleaned out their cabinets,” he said.
Lt. Chris Garrity, who was one of the officers who volunteered to help, said that for officers at the department, it was important for them to help the town.
“Anytime that you get the opportunity to give back to a community that is full of volunteers and help us do our job, it is a rewarding experience.”
Department of Public Works Director Scott Hauselt said that he has seen first hand how borough residents have been persevering through the pandemic.
“Avon, as a whole, has been coping well. We are fortunate enough in this community to have the ability to give to others,” Mr. Hauselt said.
The Fulfill food bank, located in Neptune, supplies food to local pantries in Monmouth and Ocean counties. According to the organization, the need at local food pantries has skyrocketed due to the pandemic.
Prior to the coronavirus, Fulfill was feeding 136,000 people in Monmouth and Ocean counties per year, including 50,000 children. Fulfill was also moving 1 million pounds of food each month for families. When Fulfill announced earlier this year that it would be supplying food pantries with coronavirus relief packages, it also stated that demand for food is 30 to 40 percent greater than normal. The organization has served an additional 360,000 meals to people in need as a direct result of schools and businesses being closed and people losing their jobs.
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