TOMS RIVER, N.J. – A food giveaway program in Ocean County that started during the pandemic is still very much needed.
CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke with volunteers and those it serves.
The volunteers call themselves the “Friday family.”
As cars pull up in front of the Presbyterian church in Toms River, their trunks are filled with food. The giveaways started in April 2020, when many were not working due to the pandemic and children were home, not getting meals served at school.
“We did one week. We knew we had to come back for two. After two, we knew we had to to come back for three. Now we’re on week 105,” said volunteer Terrance Turnbach.
The need remains as.
“Cost of gasoline. Cost of food. Cost of clothing. So we are seeing a constant flow. It hasn’t really ebbed,” said Toms River Mayor Mo Hill.
“I think what we uncovered in the pandemic was that the need was always there,” Turnbach said.
The volunteers say they give away more than 400 boxes of fruits and vegetables each week.
“They just drive on up. It’s quick, it’s easy, no questions asked, have a nice day, hope you and your family are well. It’s camaraderie and socialization for some people that might not get it,” said volunteer Maria Maruca.
Jackie Cerrigan says she is grateful to have found support there.
“I was in a lot of trouble. Had nowhere to live. And I came here and they helped me. They gave me food, helped me with shelter. They helped me every way they possibly could. I could not say enough about these people,” Cerrigan said.
“People thank us. We thank them, because you hear about the problem and rarely get to be a part of the solution,” said volunteer Jeanette Schlapfer.
Some even volunteer as delivery drivers.
“They go right to people who are homebound or don’t have transportation,” said volunteer Jennifer Howe.
They are committed to serving their community, and making sure no one goes hungry.
The food distribution partners with Fulfill Food Bank. With Easter coming up, they will be giving out hams in addition to the regular boxes.