Feeding Middlesex County:
September 2022
Hunger Heroes Receive
Well-Earned Recognition
Last week, at The Pines Manor, we hosted the Hunger Heroes Awards Cocktail Party. Hunger Heroes from both 2021 and 2022 were honored for their volunteerism and dedication to the fight against food insecurity in Middlesex County. The 100 attendees experienced community spirit and the partnership for a cause that defined the warm and welcoming event.

We heard remarks prepared by FMC Chairman Kevin Hoagland, shared by his wife, Eileen:

“The success of FMC is only possible because of the efforts of our board of directors as well as our numerous benefactors.

Over the last 2 years, FMC has raised more than $1.2 million dollars in grants, donations and in-kind contributions which is used to support the excellent work of Jennifer Apostol and her staff at REPLENISH which supports the 150 food pantries around Middlesex County. There are an estimated 90,000 residents in Middlesex County who are considered food insecure."

NJ State Senator Patrick J. Deignan, Jr. presented awards to heroes in 4 categories. Read on to learn about each honoree.
2021 Corporate Hunger Hero: Liberty Coca Cola Beverages
of South Brunswick
The company has committed to 13 years of product donations totaling 413,000 pounds to the county food bank (MCFOODS and now REPLENISH). As well as in-kind product donations, the company has encouraged its employees to volunteer at the REPLENISH warehouse and at food drives.  
2022 Corporate Hunger Hero: Magyar Bank
of New Brunswick
Magyar Bank has hosted food drives at their branches and as well as Thanksgiving turkey drives for REPLENISH. This has resulted in 6,800 pounds of donated food for the last 16 years. Since 2018, Magyar has donated almost $25,000 to FMC, and employees have provided many hours of volunteer services at food events.
2021 Government Hunger Hero: Middlesex County Deputy Director Commissioner
Kenneth Armwood
The late Commissioner’s service to others was outstanding and he has left a mark that cannot be erased or forgotten. He attended many FMC/REPLENISH food drives and happened to be with us the Saturday before his untimely death. He was dedicated to helping youth and under-served residents of the county, and his advocacy for FMC and REPLENISH brought attention to food insecurity in Middlesex County.
2022 Government Hunger Hero:
Middlesex County
Charles Tomaro
Honored for his 23 years of volunteer work at the Hands of Hope Food Pantry in Edison, Commissioner Tomaro has assisted with their bi-weekly distributions of food, food drives and donation pick-ups. In addition to his work at Hands of Hope, he has been a strong advocate for the work of REPLENISH and Feeding Middlesex County by promoting and participating in food drives and other events. He has raised awareness of the challenges of food insecurity.
2021 Community Hunger Hero: Isabelle Goldman,
Monroe Township
Isabelle has been a volunteer at REPLENISH, sorting food donations and preparing packages for distribution. When Covid-19 hit and restrictions for in-person volunteering started, Isabelle turned her artistic talents into a fundraiser to benefit FMC. She created and sold oil paintings. More than $1300 in proceeds went to FMC. As an aside, Isabelle continued this effort in 2022.
2022 Community Hunger Hero: Betty McCormack,
Monroe Township
Betty began her volunteerism in the REPLENISH warehouse sorting food and preparing packages of food for distribution. She has been a determined volunteer in the Feeding MIddlesex County Ambassador Program, communicating to her local community about upcoming events, food drives, donation opportunities and more. She is certainly the epitome of someone who effectively pays it forward.
The Tom Ellison Pantry Volunteer Hunger Heroes Awards were established in loving memory of Tom, who dedicated his employment and personal life to the county food bank. Nominations for this award are reviewed by the Ellison Family who name the final award winner. Food Pantry Hunger Heroes are committed to helping those who are food insecure in the same devoted manner that Tom Ellison lived his life.
2021 Tom Ellison
Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero:
Betty Crews
Peter’s Pantry, Perth Amboy
Betty has been the Associate Manager of Peter’s Pantry at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, in addition to many other volunteer positions in the city. Her 12 years of service to the Pantry began with a community garden she set up in 2010. Besides aiding her clients with meeting food needs, she also created a system whereby clients could receive vaccines during their visits to the food pantry. Betty’s dedication to helping others is legendary.
2022 Tom Ellison
Pantry Volunteer Hunger Hero:
Susan Everett
Vanessa’s Pantry, New Brunswick
Susan's commitment to fighting hunger was shown when she stepped in to run the food pantry during an extended absence. She has also shared her knowledge about nutrition and budget food buying with food pantry clients. She went so far as to deliver food in her own vehicle to those who could not come in-person to the food pantry. In accepting the award, Susan noted that she had been a food pantry client, an experience which helps her serve those current clients.
Jane Brady, former Middlesex County Freeholder (Commissioner) and founder of MCFOODS (created more than 25 years ago), was also honored. Besides creating MCFOODS, she recognized the need for a 501c3 entity to accept donations that are tax deductible and to have the ability to purchase emergency food supplies; hence, the creation of Feeding Middlesex County. She served as the first Chair of the organization, and her strong and dedicated leadership gave FMC direction. A handmade “food design” quilt created by FMC Secretary, Margaret Pemberton, was presented to Jane in recognition of her dedication and service. 

Thank you to all the award winners, those recognized, and all event attendees, who are consistent in battling food insecurity in Middlesex County!
Created as part of a recent Middlesex County public art project, one of the Windows of Understanding captures an insightful rendering of the county’s food bank. As part of the Windows of Understanding effort, artists were commissioned to depict charitable organizations and social justice causes in the county.

First displayed in a New Brunswick Starbucks, that artwork is now a permanent fixture at the REPLENISH warehouse in East Brunswick. Jennifer Apostol, director of REPLENISH, acquired the approximately 2-foot by 3- foot work, by artist John Marron earlier this summer. Marron is chairperson of the Highland Park Arts Commission and WOU Steering Team member.

“I appreciate John's rendering of REPLENISH and Feeding Middlesex County this year as he accurately depicts our work to alleviate food insecurity throughout Middlesex County,” Apostol said, “I enjoy participating in the Windows of Understanding social justice project each year. It's an inspiring way to bring awareness to many issues the community is dealing with in a positive way while showcasing agencies and organizations that offer services and support."

“Replenish has a wonderful staff, so I wanted to represent Middlesex as one of the counties that happens to have a very good staff and volunteers working hard at this,” Marron said of his intent. Every element of this “window” has a purpose: “I wanted to make it green because New Jersey is the Garden State, as it were,” Marron explained, “Rhinestones around the edge give a sense of generosity, that it’s like a hopeful, light-filled space, but multifaceted.”

Marron draws from firsthand experience. He’s been transporting food every two weeks from REPLENISH to Zone 6 Teen Center / Give A Hoot, a food pantry in his native Highland Park.

Aside from REPLENISH’s topic of food equity, other entries in the Windows represented climate change, women’s health, and violence prevention – about 20 in all. Now in its sixth year, the project’s concept is to get passersby to see literal ”windows of understanding” about local organizations and their positive impact on the community. The works were displayed prominently in business downtowns of New Brunswick, Highland Park, Metuchen, and South Plainfield. They were up from January to April. To see the full range of projects and more general information, visit the Windows of Understanding website.

[article written by FMC Communications Committee member George Francy]
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Edison, N.J. 08818
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