Local gyms help food bank refuel supplies during ‘Spoontember’

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In honor of Hunger Action Month, the Middlesex County food bank has recruited several local gyms to pump up donations by hosting on-site food drives throughout September.

“Food donations taper off in the summertime; that’s just the stark reality, but this season’s donations have been exceptionally lean,” Jennifer Apostol, project manager with the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (MCFOODS), said in a prepared statement. “While our usual response is to ration the supplies that we do have for the 100-plus agencies that we serve, this year, we’re going to try something a little different.”

In this case, MCFOODS is looking to the generosity of patrons and would-be donors of participating gyms: Retro Fitness, 223 N. Center Drive, North Brunswick; Retro Fitness, 233 Route 18, East Brunswick; New York Sports Clubs, 300 Route 18, East Brunswick; LA Fitness, 341 Route 18, East Brunswick; Planet Fitness, 561 Route 1, Edison; Princeton Fitness and Wellness Center, 7 Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro; World Fitness, 23 N. Main St., Milltown; and Master Yu’s Power Kick/Ultimate Boxing, 1032 Stelton Road, Piscataway.

“What better place to promote the idea of taking ‘action’ than at a gym?” Apostol said. “So far, we have a string of businesses in north, south and central county locations on board. We’re still holding out hope that a few more might sign up, but we’re so thankful for all the participation thus far.”

September’s Hunger Action Month is a 30-day-long initiative set forth by Feeding America, a national network on a mission to raise awareness for the approximately 48 million Americans, who are affected by hunger daily, according to information provided by MCFOODS.

“We all know someone who is struggling to make ends meet and to keep food on the table,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Carol Bellante, a liaison to the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, the entity tasked with MCFOODS’ oversight. “We all cross paths, many times unknowingly. I couldn’t be prouder to see that these Middlesex County businesses have stepped up to do something about it.”

The brainchild of Feeding America, an online movement encourages the public to perch a spoon from their nose while taking a “selfie” and hashtagging “Spoontember” on their respective social media platforms.

“Again, the hope is to inform and motivate people,” Apostol said. “We’ll be posting and trying to share these pictures on our own Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. We’re just reminding people to hashtag ‘MCFOODS,’ along with ‘Spoontember.’”

Residents interested in donating nonperishable items may do so year-round at MCFOODS’ permanent drop-off sites, located at libraries in East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Milltown, Monroe, North Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Amboy, South Brunswick, South Plainfield, Spotswood and Woodbridge.

For more information on MCFOODS or hosting a food drive, visit www.mciauth.com, call 609-655-5141 or follow the food bank on Facebook at Mcfoods Network, on Twitter @MCFOODSNetwork or on Instagram at mcfoods_network.