History of the Food Bank

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Lacey Township Food Bank

WHO WE ARE AND WHERE WE'VE BEEN. THIS PAGE WILL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE FOOD BANK.

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MR. FOOD BANK

Emil "Mr.Food Bank" Ciangetti was involved with the food bank since it's beginning. Assuming the chairmanship in 1992, he ran the bank throughout the 90's. Although he resigned as chairman in December 2000, he continued to serve as a dedicated volunteer under the leadership of the new chairman, Guy Burnett, until his death in 2004.

Burnett served as Chairman for a decade as he worked to make the food bank run by committee. In 2009  he turned over the leadership to Laura Caroccia  and Harold "Pete" Peters as Co-Chairmen of the food bank.

Later Ms. Caroccia resigned as co-chairman  in order to head the Lacey Food Kids project., and long time volunteer Ed Weisbrat, took over as co-chairman.

CHAIRMAN (EMERITUS) GUY BURNETT
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ED WEISBROT & HAROLD (PETE) PETERS
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CO-CHAIRMEN , LFB

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LAURA CAROCCIA
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CO-CHAIR, LFB

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In 1986 the Department of Agriculture started supplying surplus food to the Welfare Department of Lacey Township. The director of this now defunct program, Barbara Graveman,supervised the food distribution with the help of community volunteers. This monthly distribution, then as it is now, was meant to give people a "boost" to help them get through to the end of the month with food on the table.

There was no space or refrigeration available and to store and distribute the food required ingenuity on the part of the volunteers. They would accept delivery from the agricultural department the day before distribution which was held at Community Hall. Utilizing cabinets in the basement of the township municipal building and the nooks and crannies at Community Hall, they somehow got it all together. Two of the original volunteers, Emil Ciangetti and Zygmund Zwierchowski, estimate they hauled thousands of pounds of food around town each month - stashing it, retrieving it, packing it, distributing it, then starting all over again.

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EMIL & ZIGGIE

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Before the food bank got it's "home" in the old MUA building, it required a lot of ingenuity to store extra food. Here, former Chairman Emil Ciangetti, and Zygmund Zwierchowski are shown working out of an old army truck that the township lent them.

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ALMA BLAIR
In 1990, Alma Blair became the first volunteer chairman of the food bank and served for two years until 1992 when Emil Ciangetti took over, a post he held until December of 2000 when volunteer Guy Burnett took over the chairmanship. In spite of a scarcity of food and money and the lack of any space, they managed to keep the program going, even in the light of new beaurocratic decisions which threatened to sink them.

The US Government decided to cut the surplus food program from a monthly to a quarterly event, a catastrophic decision for the food bank which was at best, still in the toddler stage. Many people were dependent on the supplental food. What to do?

The group reached out to local supermarkets, bakeries and churches.Pastor Roy Minnix of Village Lutheran Church responded with more food than they could store. Borrowing an old army truck that the township owned, they stored the food in the truck as well in cupboards of the municipal building basement.Some of the food had missing labels so the clients were jollied into regarding these cans as "mystery meals" , with the warning that if they found dog food to give it to the dog! But at least the monthly distributions could continue. Then the bureaucrats struck again....

The directive was that if they were to continue with the government surplus program, they would not be allowed to give ANY food from ANY OTHER SOURCE to their needy people because "all people in a US government program must receive the same benefits".

At this point a meeting was called. Attending were the welfare director, chairman Emil, Pastor Minnix, the then township administrator Jorge Rod, and the Lacey Township Committee. It was determined that there were enough needy people in town to continue the program, with or without the help of the US government. A slogan was coined "Gifts from the community" as a way to work around the strange and arbitrary edict.

In Sept of 1995 the government abruptly discontinued the program nationwide and the food bank stood alone with all food and funds necessary for survival to be provided by private donations, a circumstance which remains to this date. Somehow, October's needs were met by the rest of the army truck food, and in November the Rotary Club stepped in and provided Thanksgiving baskets and staples for all, a tradition they have continued annually.

Then the Vineland storage facility of the US Government called to offer free food left over from the program. A call went out for space. Steve Hutler offered the use of the Forked River Freezer and the MUA donated a room in the building where the program is now held. The Village Lutheran Church donated shelving and after a few years of sharing space with other township departments and agencies, the old MUA building became the headquarters for the food bank. Somehow the program moved on, always looking for food and funds and getting gifts from the community.

In the midst of all this "juggling" the operation of the Lacey Welfare Board was turned over to Ocean County for administration and so now the program truly stood alone.

Some things never change. By 2000, the food bank had fallen upon hard times. Funds were almost non-existent and the food outdated and short of supply. And so a call went out for more gifts from the community. With a new motto coined "A Community Caring - By Sharing".

Many in the community have shown that they care. Hopefully the program will be  perpetuated by a commitment from the business, professional and private sectors of our community so that we can always give these gifts from the community to those in need.

THE BUREAUCRATS STRUCK AGAIN!
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