Libraries in Union County help ‘check out hunger’

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Libraries across Union County are participating in Check Out Hunger, an initiative to collect food for local food banks. The majority of libraries in the county are participating in the program, which takes place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 16, including Summit, Linden, Roselle Park, Roselle, Union, Springfield, Rahway, Cranford, Kenilworth, Mountainside, New Providence, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Plainfield and Hillside.

In addition to this special initiative, Linden and Plainfield libraries collect food year round and Roselle Park Library collects food for animal shelters year round. The Summit Library coordinates the Check Out Hunger for the rest of the libraries in the county.

“I’ve been coordinating this event for all the county libraries for five years,” Summit Library Director Susan Permahos told LocalSource over the phone. “We’ve been doing it for a total of 10 years now.”

Check Out Hunger is a national initiative that works to feed the hungry at food banks across the country. Many of the supermarkets such as Wegmans and ShopRite are involved with it as well. Each library collects its own food to donate to a food bank of their choice.

“The majority of libraries in Union County participate in the program,” Permahos told LocalSource. “They collect food and send it to a local food pantry of their choice. If they choose not to donate it, we will send it to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside for them. We all join the initiative together and collaborate on posters for publicity.”

In 2013, the libraries donated approximately 5,000 pounds of food. Some libraries even collect food year round.

“Linden and Plainfield libraries collect food year round,” Permahos told LocalSource. “However this particular drive is for the holidays. It will take place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 16. Here in Summit we only collect the food seasonally. The Roselle Park Library collects food for dogs and cats.”

The Roselle Park Library is the only library in the county that collects food to donate to animal shelters. They also do this year round.

“We usually collect food for dogs and cats,” Interim Library Supervisor Kit Rubino of Roselle Park Library told LocalSource over the phone. “We are just starting to collect for people for the holiday season. We actually get more donations for the animals than for the people. The majority of the food is for cats and is collected by Alex Balaban, who takes the food to a local shelter. This year, we will be donating the food we collect during the holiday season to the senior activity center in town.”

The Linden Library noticed an abundance of food had been donated just recently, although they collect food to donate year round.

“I noticed a good amount of food was donated recently,”Linden Library Director Dennis Purves told LocalSource over the phone. “I’m not sure if this was just our normal giving or due to the Check Out Hunger initiative. We usually donate our food to the local police to give to the food bank.”

Library patrons across the county are encouraged to bring nonperishable and canned food to the participating libraries this holiday season. Although Linden, Plainfield and Roselle Park libraries collect items year round, this is an especially important time to give and support the Check Out Hunger initiative.


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