Replenish, formerly Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (MCFOODS), reported it received and distributed a record-breaking amount of food to Middlesex County residents in need in 2021, according to the program’s yearly report.
In total, the program, which is operated by the Middlesex County Department of Community Services with support of the Board of County Commissioners, distributed a total of 4,730,058 pounds of food including fresh produce, dairy and meat products to over 150 partners, eclipsing its previous year’s record of 4,378,792 pounds of food by more than 350,000 pounds, according to information provided by Middlesex County on Feb. 16.
“We are so grateful to our community partners and our team at Replenish for adapting and persevering through the many challenges we all faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Board of County Commissioners Director Ronald G. Rios said in the statement. “While the pandemic forced us to completely rethink every aspect of our service model, we are proud that Replenish kept their doors open five days a week to not just distribute food to our partners but to provide crucial information related to COVID-19, housing, rent, childcare, mental health, and more. And to our Middlesex County residents, thank you for your continued commitment in working together to help alleviate hunger and drive awareness of the significant need that exists in our communities.”
“Keeping in line with their new brand identity and tagline, we are proud to see Replenish hit this major milestone,” County Commissioner Claribel Azcona-Barber said in the statement. “From holding their annual turkey distribution to providing food assistance to residents in need, Replenish makes a tremendous difference in the lives of so many in our community. On behalf of everyone in Middlesex County, I would like to extend my gratitude to not just our team in Replenish but to all the volunteers and staff who have given their time and energy over the years, for none of this would be possible without them.”
In addition to receiving and distributing more than 4.7 million pounds of food, Replenish launched an interactive Middlesex County Healthy Foods Map to help residents locate local healthy food through food pantries, farmers markets, and grocery stores, as well as the public transportation routes to bring individuals to those resources.
In 2021, Replenish also provided additional food assistance to multiple towns in response to the Carteret apartment fire, Tropical Storm Henri and Tropical Storm Ida.
Non-food resources distributed to residents in large quantities including baby food, LED light bulbs, cleansing wipes, hygiene products and books.
While 2021 broke records for Replenish, program operators say the need for the community to donate in any way they can is still great.
To help keep shelves stocked, Replenish, in partnership with the Board of County Commissioners and the Middlesex County Superintendent of Schools, is hosting the 2022 Middlesex County Spring School Food Drive. Individuals can drop off donations at schools from March 21 through April 1.
Monetary donations are also always accepted in the form of a check payable to “Feeding Middlesex County.” Checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 781, Edison 08818; or donations can be made online at www.feedingmiddlesexcounty.org.