Marisa Rose Bowl attendees will tackle hunger as part of a community service project leading up to the All-Star Charity Football Game.
The Tournament of Roses Parade charity walk and food drive at Saint Joseph High School in Metuchen on July 18 will benefit food-insecure children and families across the Middlesex County area.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, 1 in 12 residents and 1 in 10 children statewide “live in homes without consistent access to adequate food so everyone can lead healthy, active lives.”
In the wake of the pandemic, escalating fuel costs and rising inflation rates have exacerbated the problem as nearly 800,000 state residents are currently food insecure.
“Lack of enough food presents many challenges for everyone, but the impacts on children are particularly devastating,” said Jennifer Apostol, director of REPLENISH, a regional food bank serving residents of Middlesex County, including approximately 30,000 children.
“Children who suffer from hunger are at greater risk of serious health problems such as anemia, asthma, diabetes and obesity and are more likely to be hospitalized. Children facing food insecurity also face academic challenges. When a child is hungry, they find it difficult to concentrate on their work in class and cannot retain the information and skills needed to thrive.
During the summer, when school is closed, children do not have access to free breakfast and lunch, which puts additional pressure on families, Apostol said. As a result, more and more people are asking for pantry help to help stretch their limited funds. Summer is also a time, Apostol said, when donations to food pantries are typically low and their inventory dwindles.
More than 120 Middlesex County secondary school players and cheerleaders will volunteer at the Tournament of Roses Parade charity walk and food drive, which the Marisa Tufaro Foundation is organizing.
The Charity Walk is a two-mile walk along the scenic 70-acre campus of Saint Joseph to raise awareness of food insecurity.
The accompanying food drive is a fundraiser for REPLENISH and the Middlesex College Community Resource Hub & Food Pantry.
Please visit bit.ly/MarisaCharityWalk to register for the walk.
The $10 entry fee includes a complimentary Tournament of Roses parade commemorative t-shirt and beverages.
All attendees are respectfully requested to bring at least one item to donate from the recommended list below:
Non-perishable foods – Rice, tuna, peanut butter, canned vegetables and meats, beans, soup and pasta.
Other Items – Deodorant, soap, shampoo, diapers, baby wipes, gift cards to Target, Walmart, ShopRite, Stop & Shop and Costco.
Registration and t-shirt pick-up for the July 18 Tournament of Roses Parade will take place that day at St. Joseph’s Brenner Family Ground (Football Stadium) from 4-4:30 p.m.
The charity walk will begin at 4:45 p.m. sharp.
The rain date for the event is July 19.
All participants will be asked to wear their commemorative T-shirts during the march as a sign of solidarity.
Since its inception less than five years ago, the Marisa Tufaro Foundation has donated a quarter of a million dollars to fulfill its mission of assisting pediatric patients and underserved children in the greater Middlesex County area.
The non-profit organization, which makes community service an integral part of its mission, has also launched multiple initiatives, culminating in the collection of thousands of toys, non-perishable food items, winter coats, supplies for babies and other items to donate on which she has not invested any money. assess.
Noting that food insecurity among children is of particular concern, Apostol said the Tournament of Roses Parade charity walk and food drive couldn’t come at a better time.
“Children who are food insecure face a difficult road with many potential physical, mental and educational challenges to overcome to become successful adults,” Apostol said.
“Hungry children also suffer emotional and social consequences. The simple condition of being constantly hungry and lacking energy for physical activity is difficult. In addition to this, children can feel the financial stress of the family and this can have an emotional impact on a child. Feelings of hunger and worry for their family’s situation can cause anxiety and depression leading to behavioral problems and difficulty engaging with peers.
REPLENISH works with more than 150 pantries, soup kitchens, and social service organizations countywide, while also supporting pantries in preschools and public schools.
“School staff can easily recognize when a child may be food insecure and having a pantry or backpacking program on site is the most effective way to ensure families’ food needs are satisfied,” Apostol said.
REPLENISH also partners with Middlesex College’s Community Resource Center and Pantry, which serves its students, including those with children.
Nearly half of Middlesex College’s students receive need-based financial aid, more than a quarter of its full-time students come from households with incomes below $30,000, and many of its students work part-time or full time.
Studies have shown that 50% of community college students struggle with food insecurity, Apostol said.
“Many community college students are non-traditional, meaning they don’t start right out of high school, aren’t financially dependent on their parents, can be in school part-time while working and living. caring for dependents,” Apostol said. “So more and more students come from low-income households and find it difficult to juggle financial responsibilities while continuing their education.”
Apostol said staff and administrators at Middlesex College recognized a need four years ago and created a pantry.
“Over the years the food pantry has begun to provide more comprehensive support services covering a wider range of basic needs and has changed its name to Community Resource Center to better reflect what it does,” said declared Apostol. “Providing food and access to other resources like childcare, housing, transportation and health care has become an essential part of campus services to help ensure students have the best possible chance. to succeed in their future.”
REPLENISH and all of its partners, including the Community Resource Center and Middlesex College Pantry, are working within the community to raise awareness of food safety, to secure donations to keep pantry shelves stocked and s ensuring that residents and students in need know how and where to access food and resources.
The Tournament of Roses Parade charity walk and food drive are part of the festivities leading up to the Marisa Rose Bowl, which will be played as an intra-Middlesex County All-Star Game featuring players and cheerleaders from the Class of 2022 July 21 at North Brunswick High School’s Steve Libro Field.
All proceeds from the game, which has raised $715,000 for charity since its inception in 1994, will benefit the Marisa Tufaro Foundation.
Marisa Rose Tufaro, reportedly graduating from Edison High School last year, survived six open-heart surgeries and a heart transplant before succumbing to a rare form of cancer in 2017 following a valiant fight.
Although she was hospitalized for more than two years and maintained hundreds of doctor’s appointments, she lived a vibrant life that inspired her.
The Tournament of Roses Parade reflects Marisa Rose Tufaro’s first community service project, which as an elementary school student involved collecting non-perishable food items to donate to a local food pantry.
Parade participants are encouraged to remain on the grounds of Saint Joseph School after the march to attend Marisa Rose Bowl football and cheerleading practice, which begins July 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets for the upcoming Marisa Rose Bowl will also be available for purchase that day.