Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Morris County’s initiative aimed at helping local food pantries meet the needs of Morris County families at risk of hunger collected 19,841 pounds of nutritious non-perishable food donations and $4,333.61 toward the purchase of food items for an overall total of 24,174.

The initiative, Morris County Municipal Action to Curb Hunger or McMatch, was a contest that encouraged Morris County municipal governments to conduct food drives in September to support local pantries, with the Interfaith Food Pantry serving as the default recipient.

Frank Pinto, director of the Morris County Department of Human Services, said each municipality was assigned to a division based on its population.

The overall contest winner and the winner of Division 3 comprised of towns with a population of more than 15,000 was Mount Olive, which collected 1,692 pounds of food and $2,750 in monetary contributions. Denville came in second with 1,399 pounds of food collected and $150 in donations, with Jefferson a close third with 1,490 pounds of food collected and $50 in monetary contributions.

The contest organizers equated every $1 monetary contribution to 1 pound of food.

Rockaway Borough collected 2,719 pounds of food and $250 in cash and took first in Division 2, which was made up of towns with 6,000 to 14,999 residents, and placed second overall. Chester Township placed second in Division 2 collecting 2,650 pounds of food and $48 in donations. Chatham Borough finished third in the division with 2,207 pounds collected.

In Division 1, where towns with a population of less than 6,000 competed, Mendham Borough placed first by collecting 1,995 pounds of food items, followed by Chester Borough, which collected 1,003 pounds of food and $61 in donations, and Mendham Township, which collected 997 pounds.

Twenty-two of the 39 towns in the county signed up to compete in McMatch. Their employees were encouraged to be creative and create their own programs of collecting non-perishable food through inter-departmental competitions, public drives, town-hall collection sites or online, Pinto said.

The final tallies for each of the participating towns can be found at http://www.morrishumanservices.org/MCMatch2012.asp.

Pete Corea, Youth Activities Coordinator at the Morris County Youth Shelter, kept track of the food and monetary donations, and Youth Shelter staff and residents assisted in delivering the food for those towns that had trouble with transporting their donations.

The Morris County Youth Shelter is an emergency crisis shelter for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17.

“The residents of the Youth Shelter were able to see that even in a county that many see as being affluent, there are still people who struggle to get by and need assistance,” Corea said. “It’s really a great way for them to be exposed to an issue that they may not be aware of or fully understand without being exposed to it first hand.”

The towns that collected the most food in their divisions were recognized at the Human Services Public Officials Forum on Thursday, Sept. 27.

McMatch was supported by the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and was jointly sponsored by the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Morris County Youth Shelter, the Interfaith Food Pantry, the Volunteer Management Center and Curbing Hunger, Inc., and was patterned after a similar program in Somerset County.