Author Archives: Cynthia Vandenberg

Mercer Street Friends Food Bank Prepares For Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 12


Mail Carriers Will Collect Food for Hunger Relief Along With Mail

The food from Stamp Out Hunger comes at a critical time for Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. As the school year draws to a close, food pantries and meal programs that get supplies from Mercer Street Friends Food Bank will see increased demand as children that receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch during the school year are home in the summer.

Most of these families, with limited financial resources, find it challenging to replace the meals that their children receive when school is in session. The non-perishable foods from the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive help Mercer Street Friends Food Bank respond to the summer’s increased demand.Ewing– Saturday, May 12, 2018, will mark the largest single-day food drive of the year across the U.S. On that day, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will attempt to “Stamp Out Hunger” across America by collecting nonperishable food donations to assist the millions of Americans who are struggling to put food on their tables every day.

Locally, members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branches 380 and 268 will collect food donations for the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank in Ewing, which serves all of Mercer County.

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive began in 1992. Last year, letter carriers across the nation collected 75 million pounds of food donations, bringing the total donations in the 25-year history of the event to almost 1.6 billion pounds nationwide.

“More than 15% of Mercer County residents are food insecure. Nearly one-fourth of New Jersey children don’t have enough food to eat, which has a direct effect on their physical and mental health,” says Dr. Denalerie Johnson-Faniel, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank Director.

“Our youth struggle to concentrate in school, have behavioral problems and other issues that are often compounded by hunger and social/emotional trauma that Mercer Street Friends and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank help to address. Community programs, such as Stamp Out Hunger, help us nourish families and relieve the trauma of being hungry day-to-day.”

People that wish to participate in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive should leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods in cans, paper, or plastic containers (not glass) next to their mailbox in time for the regular mail delivery on Saturday, May 12th. The list of recommended food items includes the following: canned pasta meals, canned soups, canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna, chicken and salmon, dry pasta, canned beans or dry beans, peanut butter and jelly, cereal and oatmeal.

Mercer Street Friends board member Ken Blackwell and his colleagues in Beacon Princeton Executives – Networking for Life, an association of business leaders who follow the “go-giver” philosophy, will be the sponsor volunteer group for the event. They will dedicate their time and financial support to sort Stamp Out Hunger donations and assemble Send Hunger Packing (SHUP™) weekend youth meal program bags.

Mercer Street Friends Hosts Community Forums with City Council Candidates Throughout April


MSF hosted a Community Forum in the North Ward on April 9th at Rivera Community Middle School. At-Large and North Ward candidates were invited to the event. The candidates that attended are pictured below (left to right):  Jacque Howard (moderator), Santiago Rodriguez (At-Large Candidate), Elvin Montero (At-Large Candidate), Jerrell Blakely (At-Large Candidate), Armstead Johnson (Executive Director of Mercer Street Friends), and Algernon Ward (North Ward Candidate).

Missed the forum? Here’s the video of the event:
North Ward #MSF Community Forum 2018


The second MSF Community Forum took place on April 16th in the East Ward at Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School. The candidates that attended the East Ward forum are pictured below (left to right):  Perry Shaw III (East Ward Candidate), Santiago Rodriguez (At-Large Candidate), Tawanda Terry Wilson (East Ward Candidate), Armstead Johnson (Executive Director of Mercer Street Friends), Jerrell Blakely (At-Large Candidate), and Jacque Howard (moderator).

Here’s the video of the East Ward event:
East Ward #MSF Community Forum 2018


The third MSF Community Forum took place on April 23rd in the West Ward at Gregory Community Elementary School. Four West Ward City Council Candidates attended the forum. Pictured below (clockwise from top left) Dr. Shirley Gaines (West Ward Candidate); Zachary Chester (West Ward Candidate); Robin Vaughn (West Ward Candidate); Atalaya Armstrong (West Ward Candidate). 

Video of the West Ward event…
West Ward #MSF Community Forum 2018


The fourth MSF Community Forum took place on April 30th in the South Ward at Grace Dunn Middle School. Two At-Large Candidates attended the forum Rachel Cogsville and Jerrell Blakeley, on either side of the Mercer Street Friends sign. Also pictured, Jacque Howard (far left) and Armstead Johnson (far right).

Video of the South Ward event…
South Ward #MSF Community Forum 2018



Join Mercer Street Friends on Thursday, October 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for A Tasteful Evening, The MSF Food Bank celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year and we honor Phyllis Stoolmacher, who has been the driving force in its growth over the years. This year’s corporate honorees are NRG and Johnson Kendall Johnson. Johnson Kendall Johnson is a benefits management company that has worked with Mercer Street Friends for many years. 

NRG has consistently provided the Food Bank with volunteers and recently purchased two trucks to support the Food Bank’s efforts to pick up salvageable food from local grocery retailers to be distributed to the Food Bank’s network of Food Pantries, Meal Sites and programs such as Send Hunger Packing, which provides school kids from low-income families with weekend meal packs. 

This year, A Tasteful Evening will be held at Mercer Oaks in West Windsor, NJ. The evening will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., including hors’ de oeuvres, wine, and beer; a seated dinner follows the reception at 6:30 p.m. 

Tickets are $125 each and may be purchased by clicking



United Way of Greater Mercer County Organizes Volunteers to Strike Out Hunger

Volunteers from Mercer County gathered at Sun Bank Arena in Trenton on Tuesday, June 27, ready to make nutritious and filling individual oatmeal packs at the Third Annual Strike Out Hunger Event.

Strike Out Hunger is a campaign headed by United Way of Greater Mercer County (UWGMC) with a goal of raising money and donating food to help keep children whose families struggle with food insecurity from going hungry during the summer months when school-based feeding programs are not available. This year, United Way of Greater Mercer County partnered with Mercer Street Friends Food Bank for Strike Out Hunger.

UWGMC donated the proceeds of the Strike Out Hunger campaign to Mercer Street Friends Food Bank and other hunger-relief organizations in Trenton. The Food Bank will distribute the oatmeal packs and other donated food to food pantries and meal sites, to seniors through its mobile pantry, and to children through its Send Hunger Packing Program (SHUP).

“We are grateful to the United Way for asking us to partner with them on Strike Out Hunger,” said Armstead Johnson, executive director of Mercer Street Friends, “It was exciting to see first-hand the enthusiasm of the volunteers and the United Way staff.”