TOMS RIVER, NJ, JULY 1, 2008 – The holiday season and winter months are traditionally the times of year when food drives are in full swing. At Community Medical Center, employees know that “hunger isn’t seasonal,” so for the second year in a row the hospital has held its Healthcare Harvest Food Drive during the month of June.
According to statistics supplied by the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean County over 50,000 people in Ocean County live on incomes that are too low to provide their families with the basic necessities. Emergency food recipients include low income children, elderly, disabled adults, working poor families and families in crisis situations.
Almost half (45%) of all households in Ocean County with children have experienced hunger, meaning they were completely without any source of food at some time during the year. One in every five people did not eat for a whole day for lack of money.
Ocean County is one of the most expensive areas of the country to live in especially in terms of housing costs. A minimum wage worker in Ocean County would have to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week to afford an average two bedroom rental at the fair market rent of $1133 per month. That doesn’t leave a lot of extra for food.
The rising cost of food and fuel is leading more people to seek emergency food. In the first three months of 2008, a sample of 78 Jersey Shore-area pantries reported an increase of 30% in the number of visits from people seeking food compared with the same time last year. This is 7,000 more visits each month, just in the sampled pantries.
Community Medical Center Director of Nutrition and Foodservices and chair of the Healthcare Harvest Food Drive, Thomas Yanisko stated, “During the school year, many children are able to participate in nutrition or meal programs through the schools. These programs aren’t available during the summer months, further contributing to the need for food for families with children.”
Rising to the challenge, Community Medical Center employees embraced this year’s food drive with dedication and drive. In total, 15,391 pounds of food was donated during the week long drive. Literally everything from soup to nuts – peanut butter that is, was donated. “Last year’s Healthcare Harvest raised 7,800 pounds of non-perishable food for area food banks,” Yanisko said. “This year, we almost doubled the amount of food donated which is testament to the compassion and good will of our employees.”
He added, “It is rewarding to see our associates literally step up to the plate and help out others in our community in need.”
Yanisko said, “We had a contest to help raise food for this year’s drive. And while our employees received prizes for participating in Healthcare Harvest, the real winners are the children and families of Ocean County.” Food raised for this year’s drive was sent to The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean County and Ocean County Hunger Relief for distribution.
CONTACT: Kristine A. Brown
Director of Public Relations
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