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County Program Encourages Food Donations

'McMatch' encourages Morris municipalities to conduct food drives Sept. 1 through 24.

Morris County is partnering with several nonprofit agencies in launching a new initiative aimed at helping local food pantries meet the needs of Morris County families at risk of hunger.

The initiative, "Morris County Municipal Action to Curb Hunger" or McMatch, is a contest that encourages Morris County municipal governments to conduct food drives between Sept. 1 and 24 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 has been assigned to a division based on its population. Towns that collect the most food in their divisions will be recognized at the Human Services Public Officials Forum in September.

Municipalities in the county and their employees are 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.

McMatch was unveiled Tuesday before the Morris County Board of Freeholders, which then issued a proclamation declaring September to be "Hunger Awareness Month" in the county to call attention to the program.

In issuing the proclamation, Freeholder Director William Chegwidden urged Morris County residents to support McMatch by dropping off nutritious non-perishable food donations at their town hall to benefit the food pantry of the town’s choosing.

Rosemary Gilmartin, executive director of the Interfaith Food Pantry, told the freeholders that her agency distributed more than 162 tons of food during the first six months of 2012 during almost 7,400 family visits.

“Recent economic conditions have caused the Interfaith Food Pantry and nearly every other food pantry in Morris County to see an increase of more than 25 percent in the number of families it serves since 2008,” Gilmartin said.

McMatch is 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 is patterned after a similar program in Somerset County.

For contest rules or more information, visit the contest site at vmcnj.org/mcmatch, mcifp.org or MorrisHumanServices.org.

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