Stuff the Bus was an incredible success, and CHOW (Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse) received much needed healthy donations and supplies.
Baby food and diapers, multi-grain cereals, oatmeal, low sodium soups, tuna, peanut butter and jelly, and whole wheat pasta were just a few of the donations that easily stuffed the bus full of donations and now line CHOW’s shelves. The bus stopped at Newark Academy, Shoprite, Kings, Mount Pleasant Elementary School, Harrison Elementary School, Temple Beth Shalom, and at the Livingston 2012 Fun Run for Health and Wellness.
The schools demonstrated strong support for CHOW. Newark Academy’s Community Service Council helped collect over 700 items and tied the event into their Spirit Week Celebration. Mount Pleasant Elementary School had about 30 kids present when the bus pulled in and kids eagerly placed bag after bag of donations onto the bus. The Stuff the Bus collection was the first of many service projects planned by the MPE Makes a Difference committee. Harrison Elementary School had an impressive collection that was organized by the PTA. Kids came to help Stuff the Bus and learned about CHOW.
ShopRite showed a strong commitment to the food drive as healthy items, valued at $1 and $2, were selected ahead of time and made available for purchase at checkout. Christine Patroniti, the Store Dietitian, selected the healthy items and encouraged strong participation with support from store management. Over 5 carts of food were purchased and loaded onto the bus.
Kings demonstrated strong support for Stuff the Bus and was appreciative of the community’s generosity. Laura Borst, Kings‘ Customer Service Manager, selected and ordered a variety of healthy food items which were sold at check out. Shoppers purchased over 13 grocery carts worth of healthy food items valued at over $2,500.
Temple Beth Shalom’s Hey Class also stuffed the bus and participants at the Livingston 2012 Fun Run for Health and Wellness, organized by the West Essex YMCA, the Big "L" Club and the Livingston Education Foundation, brought donations.
The Stuff the Bus is a joint project of the Livingston Food Day committee and the town wide community service project. With leadership from Deputy Mayor Rudy Fernandez, the organizations who have participated in the town wide project include: The Livingston Kiwanis Club; The West Essex YMCA; Livingston UNICO; Livingston Sunrise Rotary Club; Livingston Knights of Columbus, Council 3533; Livingston Masonic Lodge #11; the Livingston American Little League; and Healthy Community, Healthy Youth.
Food Day is a national initiative, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, working to bring people together to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable and humane way. In 2012, Livingston has joined Food Day’s “eat real movement” to help do nothing short of transforming the American diet. Key partners in Livingston’s Food Day efforts include the West Essex YMCA, Livingston Township, Shoprite, Kings, Livingston Public Schools, Livingston Public Library, C.H.O.W, and other community groups. Special thanks to the Livingston Public Schools for their generously providing the bus. This Food Day initiative was introduced to the community through the United Way’s Pantry Partners, which has provided valuable guidance and technical assistance in many ways.
C.H.O.W, spearheaded by Sister Barbara Howard of St. Philomena’s is a project of the Livingston Clergy Association. C.H.O.W. is also open to local residents, of all faiths, in need on a drop-in basis and those interested can contact Sister Barbara at (973) 992-1382 for additional information. For more information on the town’s food day initiative go to www.facebook.com/LivingstonFoodDay or email Eileen Sweeny at Eileen.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.