Rutgers Helps Fight Hunger With Annual Adopt-a-Family Campaign

By: Nicolette Accardi

Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH) is getting ready to launch its seventh annual Adopt-a-Family campaign to continue to help families throughout New Jersey struggling with hunger.

Starting on Oct. 15, Rutgers faculty and students will have the chance to adopt a family, or several families, from one of the 12 participating New Jersey social service agencies with hopes of providing families with a better holiday season. Established in 2009, Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH) created the Adopt-a-Family campaign to help struggling families in the state of New Jersey.

According to the Poverty Research Institute, 1 out of every 5 New Jersey families do not earn enough money to afford basic necessities such as food, childcare and housing.

RAH encourages the Rutgers community to participate in Adopt-a-Family to help better the lives of those struggling with hunger.

Christopher R. Retzko, assistant secretary of Rutgers University, explained how involved the Rutgers community is in the organization.

“Approximately 150 departments across the university participate in the program each year,” Retzko said.  “During the second week of December we work with teams from our university Facilities department to go to each participating department and pick up their boxes in the morning and then deliver them that afternoon to our partner agencies.”

Raj Vaidya, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, thinks Rutgers does everything it can do to provide for these families, but unfortunately not everyone in need is able to get help.

“I feel like it truly does help the families in need,” Vaidya said. “However, you can never feed all the hungry families in need of food.”

According to RAH, former Rutgers president Richard L. McCormick believes Rutgers has a responsibility to help struggling families due to the resources Rutgers has available.

“Rutgers and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station have pursued research and developed educational programs to benefit the state’s farmers, consumers, and businesses,” McCormick said according to RAH. “But as the economic crisis puts more children and adults at risk because they do not have enough to eat, we have a responsibility to do more to help them with our considerable resources in these areas.”

RAH has gathered over 225,000 pounds of food and raised about $250,000 for food banks and pantries throughout New Jersey since 2008.

“To date we have provided food and gifts to almost 1,200 families, and we hope to sponsor over 250 families this season,” Retzko said.

Mike Hunt, a School of Management and Labor Relations senior at Rutgers, thinks highly of the program and everything it does for those struggling.

“It’s a wonderful cause that helps the under privileged people of New Brunswick eat,” Hunt said.

To help families struggling with hunger throughout the year, food donations can be made consisting of canned goods and nonperishable foods at various on-campus bin locations on each campus.

Pantries affiliated with the program are the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the Food Bank of South Jersey, the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, the Mercer Street friends Food Bank and NORWESCAP Food Bank.