Hunger Heroes Awards fundraiser benefits food-insecure Middlesex County residents

Senator Patrick Diegnan will have the privilege of serving as honorary chairperson for Feeding Middlesex County’s Hunger Heroes Awards.

The fundraising event, which will be held Sept. 22 at The Pines Manor in Edison, honors some of the volunteers and businesses that have gone above and beyond in support of Feeding Middlesex County and partner REPLENISH to alleviate hunger.

Escalating fuel and food costs, coupled with rising inflation rates, have increased the number of state residents without reliable access to quality, affordable and nutritious food, an ongoing problem the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, 1 in 12 residents and 1 in 10 children statewide “live in homes without consistent access to adequate food for everyone to live healthy, active lives.” In Middlesex County, 1 in 8 residents, or 100,000 people, are food insecure.

All proceeds from the Hunger Heroes Awards, fittingly being conducted during National Hunger Awareness Month, will benefit food insecure Middlesex County residents.

“Feeding Middlesex County and REPLENISH form a remarkable team that does amazing work to alleviate food insecurity across all 25 towns in our county,” Diegnan said. “The support both organizations receive from donors and volunteers reflects the generosity of our residents who know their charitable efforts are helping neighbors and going to a great cause.”

REPLENISH is the Middlesex County food bank that serves 150 food pantries, social service agencies and houses of worship county-wide. A government organization, REPLENISH receives full support from the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners.

Feeding Middlesex County is an all-volunteer nonprofit which raises money to purchase food for the food bank and accepts in-kind donations of food for REPLENISH. Feeding Middlesex County also provides grants to food pantries for non-food necessities such as shelving, transportation, and refrigeration.

“Lacking sufficient food presents many challenges for everyone, but the impacts on children are particularly devastating,” said Jennifer Apostol, director of REPLENISH, which serves an estimated 30,000 children.

“Children who face hunger are more at risk for serious health conditions like anemia, asthma, diabetes, and obesity and are more likely to be hospitalized. Children dealing with food insecurity also face academic challenges. When a child is hungry, they have difficulty focusing on their classwork, and cannot retain the information and skills necessary to flourish.”

Last year, REPLENISH distributed 4.7 million pounds of food. REPLENISH and Feeding Middlesex County rely on donations from food drives, permanent food collection sites, and monetary donations used to purchase additional food.

Honorees for the Sept. 22 Hunger Heroes Awards and Cocktail Reception, which runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., include:

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages – 2021 Corporate Hunger Hero

Isabelle Goldman – 2021 Community Hunger Hero

Middlesex County Commissioner Deputy Director Kenneth Armwood (posthumously) – 2021 Government Hunger Hero

Betty Crews of Peter’s Pantry – 2021 Tom Ellison Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero

Magyar Bank – 2022 Corporate Hunger Hero

Betty McCormack – 2022 Community Hunger Hero

Middlesex County Commissioner Charles E. Tomaro – 2022 Government Hunger Hero

Susan Everett of Vanessa’s Pantry – 2022 Tom Ellison Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero

Reservations for the event, which includes a silent auction, open bar and appetizers, are $100 and can be made online through Sept. 15.

Those unable to attend but willing to support the cause can donate online or make a check payable to Feeding Middlesex County, PO Box 781, Edison, NJ 08818.

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