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Freehold Borough officials salute volunteers for efforts during pandemic

FREEHOLD – Organizations, individuals, businesses and governing boards have been recognized for their volunteer efforts in a program that provided food donations and other supplies to Freehold Borough residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the Borough Council’s meeting on June 21, municipal citations were awarded to the members of the Food Safety Net program.

Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer explained that the program began in April 2020 as a response to a growing food need in the community. The program’s start-up occurred shortly after the coronavirus pandemic took hold in New Jersey in March 2020.

According to Shutzer, the Food Safety Net program was formed on the suggestion of Mayor Kevin Kane and Business Administrator Steve Gallo. Downtown Freehold Business Advocate Jeffrey Friedman served as the program’s chairman.

“It became obvious this was an overwhelming job that was too big for any single agency to handle,” Shutzer said. “A wonderful coalition of like-minded organizations and individuals stepped up with the common goal of seeing that no one was hungry during this unimaginable, horrible time, and everyone had access to nutritious food. None of these people did this for recognition, but rather with hearts of gold and a willingness to serve, they flew into action.

“My mother used to say that out of everything bad comes something good,” the councilwoman continued. “In this instance, my mother’s words nailed it. Because of (the volunteers), no one in Freehold Borough is hungry. These folks provided food and services comparable to no other towns.”

The Freehold Borough K-8 School District and Freehold High School, which is one of the six schools in the Freehold Regional High School District, took part in the Food Safety Net program, according to Shutzer, as did the Freehold Borough Education Foundation, which raises funds for the K-8 district, and the Freehold Borough Education Association, which represents the K-8 teachers.

Organizations that assisted with food and other donations included Meet the Need, Casa Freehold, the Freehold Borough Community Center, the Freehold Open Door Food Pantry, the Community Affairs and Resource Center Downtown Freehold, Fulfill Food Bank and Blessing Bag Brigade, while Neighborhood Connections to Health provided volunteers, according to Shutzer.

Religious organizations also participated, according to Shutzer, such as the Bethel AME Church, the Freehold Clergy Association, the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Additions assistance was provided by the Freehold Raceway Mall and CentraState Medical Center.

Shutzer thanked Freehold Borough’s municipal officials and employees for their work with the Food Safety Net program.

In turn, members of the governing body thanked Shutzer for her involvement.

“This is why this town is so great,” Kane said. “Networking and love at it’s best.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, Shutzer emphasized that of all the work for the Food Safety Net program was offered on a voluntary basis.

“None of these people had to do this,” she said. “None of these people had to show up, but they showed up. It reminded me of Father Flanagan in ‘Boys Town’ when he said, ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.’ That says it all about these people.”

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