I would like to inform the readers of the News Transcript about another example of the Freehold community coming together to support those in need.
In the Freehold Borough School District, 70% of the students are eligible for free/reduced lunch. While our schools have been closed, our superintendent has been able to keep providing meals to the students through a pick-up program at the Park Avenue complex.
However, there were no funds budgeted for meals during spring break, which began April 9, as schools are normally closed at that time. During this difficult time, many of our parents are strapped and are finding it hard to make ends meet.
This need was brought to the attention of our borough administrator, Steve Gallo, and Councilwoman Annette Jordan during the week of March 30.
Councilwoman Jordan reached out to me as chairperson of Freehold Borough Educational Foundation to see if the foundation could make a financial contribution to help fill the gap.
A quick poll of my board garnered a majority consensus to assist with a large financial commitment by redirecting funds we had allocated for now-cancelled cultural arts programming for our schools and to organize a food drive and help raise additional funds.
Subsequently, the foundation partnered with Downtown Freehold, Neighborhood Connections to Health and Freehold Borough to raise funds to pay local restaurants to provide 3,200 meals a day during spring break (April 10-17).
As an added benefit, four of our hurting downtown restaurants will receive an economic benefit, however minor, through this effort.
This newly formed partnership had its first planning call on April 4 and by April 8 we had exceeded our fundraising goal to cover the cost of these meals, which was $23,000.
In addition, Pomptonian Food Service (the school district’s cafeteria contractor) is donating 1,000 spring/Easter decorated cookies for distribution, and CVS in Manalapan is donating its inventory of Easter candy to give out to the families.
Another organization learned of our plans (Meet the Need) and will distribute an additional 800 packaged lunches.
It has been inspiring and heartwarming to see people from civic organizations, churches, business groups, government and nonprofits come together at the last minute to take care of this need.
We have received donations from Rotarians and Optimists, teachers and administrators, Democrats and Republicans, the clergy, local grocery stores, elected officials, school board members and regular folks from throughout the community. We are fortunate to live in such a supportive town.
Freehold Borough Educational Foundation