Rockand County Sheriff Lou Falco, District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan and Nyack Fire Department Deputy Chief Vincent Reid joined other local officials as celebrity baggers for the "Help Bag Hunger" event, a part of ShopRite Partners in Caring Day. ShopRite stores all over Rockland County and beyond participate in the Partners in Caring Day, which is designed to bring attention to the growing number of people going hungry locally and nationwide.
"The act of doing something to give back (brings me here)," said Falco, who participated at the ShopRite in Stony Point last year. "I protect the people of the county of Rockland every day, but on the same token, this gets me more connected to the community. "
Village of Nyack Trustee Marie Lorenzini and Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato were also at the West Nyack location Wednesday, while Rockland County Legislator Ed Day, Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart and People to People Program Director Betsy Rodman participated at the ShopRite of Pearl River. Local officials at those and other locations dedicate approximately an hour to bag groceries and speak with customers about what brings them there.
"It's an important issue," said Day, a candidate for Rockland County Executive. "People don't understand how big a problem it is. People in government, when they go to this, it brings a light on the issue. That's one of the best things we can do as an elected official. That's why I'm here."
Rodman took time out from the Rockland County Hunger Summit at the Pearl River Hilton to bag groceries at ShopRite. People to People is Rockland County's largest food pantry.
"Why we're here is the money goes to the regional food bank, then it goes to local agencies such as ourselves," Rodman said. "People know that when they are giving, it is going to go right here in the county. It's going to help their neighbors. That's why I'm h ere, to help raise awareness."
Donations in Rockland County go through the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley to the following local food pantries:
- The Salvation Army in Spring Valley
- Nyack Head Start Parent Group Food Pantry
- Pilgrim Baptist Church Food Pantry in Nyack
- St. Pauls Community Dinner in Spring Valley
- Nyack F.O.O.D. Program Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen
- Project HOPE Food Pantry in Spring Valley
- Iglesia La Mission Food Pantry in Nyack
- Rhonda Bloom Kosher Food Pantry in West Nyack
The event is timed to fall in September as part of National Hunger Awareness month. According to Feeding America, as many as 30,000 people in Rockland County may be food insecure, meaning they are not sure where their next meal is coming from. Find out more about that in this report on Patch.
"(The problem) is growing and growing, but the funding is not," Rodman said.
"There is a perception among most people doing okay in life that this is not a problem up here, but it is," Day said.
ShopRite began the Partners in Caring Program in 1999, helping raise more than $29 million in donations to 1,7000 hunger relief agencies in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
ShopRite Partners in Caring continues at local stores through Sept. 28. Customers can make donations at the register. There are also other efforts such as dress-down days for employees who donate, T-shirt sales and raffles.
"Any way to raise funds within the store and capture they shopper, they do it," Lorenzini said.