Branchburg Rotary 
Fighting Hunger In Our Communities
According to survey “In New Jersey, 774,860 people are struggling with hunger - and of them 219,760 are children. 1 in 9 children struggles with hunger. People facing hunger in New Jersey are estimated to report needing $437,705,000 more per year to meet their food needs.Although we have not been able to hold any of our other regular events during the pandemic, we were able to conduct several food collection and donation events for the Somerset County Food Bank and the SHIP throughout the year. Following is the Annual Report of our efforts in this area.  Thank you everyone for your kind support to help needy people in our community. Your help is greatly appreciated. 
January – The Soup-A-Thon conducted at the Branchburg ShopRite just before the Super Bowl was a two-day event during which we asked shoppers to help those in need by buying and donating soup. It yielded approximately 5000 cans of soup valued at upwards of $10,000. 

March –    By the end of March, the Somerset County Food Bank was overwhelmed with requests for help. The Club conducted a small Food Drive at Kangaroo Kids Childcare and Learning Center. The drive focused on food for the Backpack program. Enough food was donated to fill 2 SUVs.

April –       At the urging of several community members, another mini food drive was conducted for the kids program and this time enough food was collected to fill 3 SUVs. 
May –        In May the Food Bank was serving almost 4 times as many clients as they had at the beginning of 2020 and the need was beginning to outpace their ability to keep pace. The Club decided to hold a one-day food drive at the Branchburg ShopRite. The response was overwhelming. Sensitive to the safety concerns of gathering in small areas we opened a drive through to provide donors with an opportunity to make their donations without ever having to leave the safety of their cars. That day we filled a pickup truck with groceries seven times. The Food Bank estimated that the event yielded 6,000 lbs. of food.

July –         Typically the Club cooks for SHIP 4 times a year but that was not possible in 2020. In an attempt to help, 11 members of the Club cooked at home and donated 26 casseroles. Shortly thereafter Joe and Billy found a company that supplies food trucks with half pans of ziti, mac and cheese, chili and other comfort foods. They purchased 10 casseroles and donated them to the cause and brought our number to 36.     

October – As we reached the 8th month of the pandemic the shelves at the Food Bank were completely empty so on October 24 the Club held a Mega Food Drive that included the ShopRites in Branchburg, Somerville, Bound Brook and Hillsborough. It was an enormous undertaking requiring almost 50 volunteers to stand at the doors from 9am to 3pm. Club members and their families and friends staffed the collection tables and collected more than 22,000 lbs. of food that day worth almost $20,000. Drivers circled the collection sites picking up the food and bringing it to a central location run by Joe Horner. The crates that were filled that day were stored overnight and brought to the food bank on Monday. 

November – In 2019 we donated hams and roasters to the Food Bank to supplement the donations they were getting for Thanksgiving. We did the same this year. Thanks to the generosity of several members, we donated over 45 hams and 40 chickens.
 The President of the Food Bank also called on Joe’s help to pick up 150 plus boxes of Thanksgiving items as well as turkeys that were distributed to families before the big day.
 Beginning in November and continuing through January the Club as made regular visits to the Food Bank during our regularly scheduled meeting times to sort donations and pack food bags,   
December – In December, the Food Bank asked that we consider donating $20.00 gift cards. Three members and one volunteer stepped forward and $300 in gift certificates were donated which went out to struggling families almost within the hour I delivered them to the Treasurer.
January –     In January we used money to buy supplies for the Children’s Program. Thanks to 5 Rotary Shoppers, we were able to focus on mac and cheese, milk, soup in a cup and tuna during the Can Can Sale at ShopRite. Due to a contact that John Shockley made with Campbell Soup we may receive a donation for the Children’s Backpack Program in the next month.
I want to thank all of the members who donated their time to staff the various events we conducted and/or offered monetary assistance to make our Fight Against Hunger a success this year despite the limitations placed on us during the pandemic.