South River Fire Department helps local food bank

By VASHTI HARRIS
Staff Writer

SOUTH RIVER — The South River Fire Department reached out with a helping hand to the South River Food Bank last weekend.

On Nov. 5, volunteer firefighters collected food and monetary donations at the firehouse, located at 28 George St.

“Ever since [superstorm] Sandy, our department has held a food drive before the Thanksgiving holiday, and this year, besides [the one on Nov. 5], we also held one on March 19. This food drive [was] organized and run by our officers, members and our Ladies Auxiliary,” South River Fire Chief William Smith said.

The South River Food Bank, under the supervision of the South River Board of Health, has a mission to assist South River residents who need help to close the gap in their monthly food budget. It is funded solely by donations.

“After [superstorm] Sandy, our food bank was destroyed, along with all its contents, as a result of the 5 feet of water that was left in the building that housed it at 55 Reid St.,” Smith said. “The food bank was temporarily relocated to Saints Peter & Paul Russian Orthodox Church on Whitehead Avenue.

“Immediately, our department realized the need to help the food bank get back in operation, and our first food drive was held on Nov. 17 and 18, 2012. The response was overwhelming.”

Over the years, the department has worked closely with Beth Lukacs, the food bank supervisor, to assess what the current needs are, Smith said.

“Members, along with their families, from our department also support the food bank by volunteering during the food bank’s normal hours of operation. It is truly rewarding to be able to give back to our community in this capacity,” Smith said.

Lukacs is grateful for the support.

“They’re a really, really active department. During [superstorm] Sandy they actually sponsored a food drive and started up a collection so that we could purchase more food for the residents in need. They also help with our annual Thanksgiving dinner by serving the people and carving the turkey,” she said.

Items requested throughout the year include canned fruits, soups, pasta, beans, milk, vegetables, stew, chili, Spam, peanut butter, jelly, spaghetti sauce, boxed pasta, cereal and Parmalat milk.

Thanksgiving-related items being requested include stuffing, potatoes, canned yams and sweet potatoes.

The South River Food Bank is open every Wednesday and the first two Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m.-noon. The food bank is in the Human Resources building on 55 Reid St. Donations are accepted during food bank hours or by special arrangement. Call the food bank at 732-238-3020 or Board of Health secretary Debbie Jones at 732-257-1999, ext. 118 to make a donation.

To find out eligibility for receiving assistance from the South River Food Bank, visit www.southrivernj.org and click on the South River Food Bank tab.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@gmnews.com.