By Celia Belmonte
RED BANK – More than 4 tons of food was collected to help stock depleted food pantry shelves during Lunch Break’s recent Foodstock event.
Lunch Break, the soup kitchen at 121 Drs. James Parker Blvd. that also supplies emergency food for those who need it, partnered with Move For Hunger to host the Foodstock food drive on May 19 at the Red Bank Middle School. Move For Hunger is a non-profit organization that works with moving companies to collect unwanted or unopened non-perishable food from individuals who are relocating and deliver it to local food banks across the United States.
Lowy’s Moving Service, a fourth-generation moving company in Neptune, provided a truck that helped transport the food from the Red Bank Middle School to Lunch Break. The 8,100 pounds of food collected is enough to provide over 5,000 meals for those in need in the community.
“Food came from food drives people did at schools and churches,” said Susan Haugenes, vice president of the Lunch Break Board of Trustees and chairperson for the Outreach Committee. “Even some of our clients were walking up with a can or two of food.”
Haugenes was grateful for the help from Move For Hunger. “We definitely want to do more with Move For Hunger,” Haugenes said. “(Move For Hunger Founder and Executive Director) Adam Lowy wants to come to our next meeting because he thinks he can help us do a lot more. He is going to be involved in the future for sure.”
Lowy, an Ocean Township native, founded Move For Hunger in the summer of 2009 after graduating from Arizona State University. His family owns Lowy’s Moving Service.
“The whole idea started when we were seeing people move and they were just leaving all their belongings,” Lowy said. “A lot of the stuff they were leaving behind was food.”
In his first month, just by asking if moving families would like their unwanted food to be donated to local food pantries, Lowy collected nearly 300 pounds of food.
“After that I quit my job and we started Move For Hunger,” he said. “Now we’re working with over 350 moving companies and 120 real estate agents in 43 states across the country. We’ve delivered over 600,000 pounds of food since we started three years ago.”
According to worldhunger.org, the official measurement of poverty as published by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that in 2010, 17.2 million households, (about one in seven), were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in America.
“Especially growing up here I didn’t know anything about hunger when we started,” Lowy said. “Monmouth County is one of the wealthiest counties in our country. You don’t see the food lines or the homeless because you aren’t looking for it. But when I went to the food bank, they told me there were 125,000 people at the time in Monmouth and Ocean counties that didn’t have enough to eat.”
Lowy, who helped turn the 2012 New Jersey Marathon on May 6 into a food drive, plans to bring more awareness to the two river area.
“We are doing every festival like Oysterfest, Riverfest, Jazzfest, all of those are going to be food drives this year,” Lowy said. “We will be working with local movers in this area too.”
Lowy has received national recognition for his work with Move For Hunger. In 2011, he was honored at VH1’s Do Something Awards. Since 1996, Dosomething.org has recognized the country’s most ambitious social changers under 25. At last year’s awards ceremony, hosted by Jane Lynch of Glee in Los Angeles, Lowy was awarded a $10,000 prize for his efforts. Move for Hunger also won the 2011 Community Builders Award “for excellence in serving our communities” at NBC’s American Giving Awards. The organization took home a $125,000 grant from Chase Community Giving with the honor.
Lowy hopes the acknowledgment will help bring awareness to his cause. “We are really trying to educate people about hunger,” Lowy said. Move For Hunger “has been a really easy way of trying to keep the conversation going every day. We are connecting the community in just a different kind of way.”
Move For Hunger and Lunch Break want the public to know that hunger is not just an issue during the holiday season.
“We really wanted to do Foodstock in the summer because our pantry is empty in the summer,” Haugnes said. “That’s when we really get the least amount of food. Around the holidays we have food drives going crazy.”
Lowy added: “Hunger is year-round,” Lowy added.
Move For Hunger will host its fourth annual Surfside Food Drive, which is set to culminate in a three-day festival at the Asbury Park Boardwalk on Labor Day weekend.
For Lowy, this is just the beginning of bringing hunger to its end. “We will be in all 50 states and are hoping to get up to a million pounds of food by the end of this year,” Lowy said. “Canada is pushing for us so we actually have some movers in Canada now too.”
To learn more information about how you can help fight hunger in the community visit Lunch Break at www.lunchbreak.org. To learn more about Move For Hunger’s upcoming events, visit www.moveforhunger.org.