Jan. 13, 2021 -- Fulfill, the local food bank for Ocean and Monmouth Counties, has continued its generosity in the Toms River Regional Schools community by donating hygiene kits ready to be distributed to high school students across the district. Today, representatives from the organization met with district officials on site at High School East to deliver the kits.
A total of 1,000 mesh drawstring bags each containing items such as shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, shaving cream, and feminine hygiene products were delivered for distribution.
Erin Leo, a food sourcing & nutrition specialist at Fulfill, came up with the idea to help teenage students, who may feel hesitant to accept other forms of assistance, obtain these often-pricey personal care items.
Fulfill is perhaps most well-known for its programs that fight hunger. One of those programs is a backpack program for students where they are sent home with Ziploc bags of shelf stable food that can be eaten throughout the weekend until school reopens the following week.
“I am very well aware that students tend to fall off the [backpack] program as they get older, even as early as 6th grade, and very few high schoolers participate in the program,” said Leo. “Hygiene items are expensive, and I thought high schoolers might be willing to receive this type of ‘backpack’ over the food ones.”
It is no secret that the ongoing pandemic has led to more students and families in need of assistance than ever before in this area. To help, Toms River Schools currently offers free breakfast and lunch to all students in the district through its food services department.
During the summer, the Ocean County YMCA partnered with Fulfill to facilitate the Summer Meals Program that directly provided healthy, nutritious snacks and lunches to approximately 5,000 Toms River children.
Additionally, students, staff, and clubs within the district have also volunteered their time and donated food to Fulfill as a way to give back to the community and help people in need during the pandemic. Last spring, the High School East Thespian Troupe #3459 collected and donated over 300 pounds of food to Fulfill’s #FindFood program that directly benefited local Toms River and Ocean County families.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Fulfill to help families in need in our school community,” said Assistant Superintendent James Ricotta. “We can’t thank the organization enough for its continued generosity and for providing the hygiene kits to our high school students.”
Fulfill, which changed its name from The FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties as it began offering a wider variety of assistance programs, has programs that include providing food, kids’ feeding programs, mobile pantries, tax refund assistance, affordable healthcare, SNAP enrollment assistance, and job search assistance, among others.