Please help our efforts to help those in financial crisis in food-insecure households. I'm raising money to benefit Bentley Community Services and your donations will help make a tremendous impact. Thank you in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me and so many others! In order to continue our efforts, Bentley is in need of a 16 ft. box truck with a lift gate to pick-up and rescue quality foods from our area generous providers of products on our scheduled pickups.
Bentley Community Services (BCS) helps families in financial crisis in food-insecure households who come from the entire Central New Jersey region of communities, as we create access to and connect families to healthy, fresh and nutritious foods weekly to facilitate healthy diets and nutrition. BCS is in its sixth year, continues to grow and has been serving our neighbors in need in our communities since August, 2013. Currently, BCS has distributed 1,467,326,000 lbs. of high quality food provisions, graduated 79 (a typical family of five) families out of the program since 2013, no longer in need of our services. During 2018, 17 families graduated and reached their goal of self-sufficiency. Bentley is a volunteer charitable organization and volunteers logged a total of 18,624 hours in 2018!
Many working families silently struggle, are not reaching financial solvency and are in financial crisis in food-insecure households due to two incomes going to one, underemployment, numerous debts, higher costs of living and groceries, diminishing healthcare and medical bills. Often, it is a choice of whether to pay the mortgage or rent, put gas in the car, pay the monthly bills or purchase foods that are less costly and not as nutritious. They simply cannot afford to purchase healthy and wholesome foods for their families. These families are not on the SNAP program and are unable to receive traditional assistance. Families shop and pick up foods weekly at our warehouse distribution facility at 4064 US-1, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852 where they pack up full shopping carts worth over $200 of high quality food provisions for their households, as BCS helps them get on the fast track to recovery, offsetting/eliminating grocery bills. Families in our program received over $12,600 worth of provisions last year. This value, added to the family’s budget is used to help accomplish their self-stated goals.
By Bentley being the main grocer, we provide large amounts of groceries weekly to enable these families to prepare three meals each day and more. Well-fed children think and learn better in school and well fed mothers and fathers are able to feel food secure, eliminating this stress. They are able to be productive and creative in their workplace. It is vital that Bentley continues in its operations, providing and creating access to healthy and nutritious foods each week for this target population, as we address the most basic needs of those that are struggling daily. By Bentley providing meats, chicken, seafood, dairy products, fresh quality breads/baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, non-perishables, toiletries, household products, adult education and resources, the money they save on these crucial staples enables these families to pursue goals that move them away from the bankruptcies, evictions and foreclosures that threaten them, and on to financial stability. Their households are food secure with nutritious, healthy foods to feed their family.
BCS is an alternative food bank/pantry, serving a specific under-served target population that is in tremendous need. Although employed, these families are not reaching self-sufficiency due to financial setbacks, lay-offs, under employment, unemployment, debts, high medical bills and households of extended families. Providing provisions weekly facilitates families' ability to allocate saved income in ways for debt reduction, the ability to pay monthly bills and expenses, lower medical costs, healthy eating, maintaining healthy diets and nutrition, avoiding foreclosures and evictions and working towards attaining financial stability and security. Our objectives are to (1) to ensure that each week we have enough of a full range of perishable and non-perishable foods in the major food groups to accommodate all clientele and (2) to ensure and enhance BCS cost-efficiency, financial responsibility and practice of sustainability to continue and expand its operations to help and serve as many families as we are able to each week. Bentley empowers participants through accountability and setting of goals, fostering their desire and capacity to give back through volunteerism in our environment of community. Typical outcomes include decreasing/eliminating debts, improving one's credit score, paying medical bills, car loans, student loans, credit cards, or for vocational training (which research shows, is the most effective way out of poverty). We have helped families take significant steps toward their goal of financial stability and security.
BCS provides support and encouragement in a culture and environment of accountability and self-help to place families on the path to financial stability and security. Since August 2013, BCS has been creating access to and providing healthy, nutritious foods, facilitating healthy diets to families in financial crisis in food-insecure households. BCS does this by providing goods and services that facilitate families' capacity to both save, and make better use of, scarce financial resources. This is accomplished first by: (a) distribution of a wide range of healthy, nutritious food provisions, toiletries and household products each week (b) offering instruction to inform, educate, increase skills and move families forward through workshops facilitated by professionals held throughout the year and (c) by providing an environment of accountability and community volunteerism.
BCS rescues, recovers and picks up on scheduled pickups, surplus foods that are donated to us from over 20 providers, such as retail grocers, farms, restaurants, bakeries, dairies, distributors, Princeton University and several big box stores as we divert these quality foods from the landfill, check, sort and re-distribute into the households that certainly need and could use them. BCS practices accountability, integrity and the dignity of the exchange through community volunteerism as we serve one another. As BCS has no geographic borders, families presently come from Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon, Union, Essex, Monmouth and Ocean counties. BCS has a large community of volunteers each week, consisting of key community volunteers, clientele families volunteering on rotation and employee work teams from various corporations and organizations that support our program.
BCS is not a conventional food pantry. There are several key elements which make us unique and different:
*Participant centered: From its beginning, BCS focuses on the needs of its target group of working families, seniors and individuals most who are affected by lay-offs, underemployment, unemployment, medical expenses/co-pays, high debt or an unforeseen financial crisis.
*A theory of change based on accountability and the power of human dignity: At its core, BCS’s unique model of service delivery believes that true charity comes from empowering each individual to restore his or her capacity to be self-sufficient, and that the most effective way to accomplish this process is within the context of a community in which individuals are participants working together to attain their goals.
*Participants self-state their goals and we help them achieve their goals by offering adult education classes. We hold workshops such as healthy eating habits and nutrition; work, life and time management; updating computer skills; financial literacy; certification in CPR/HeartsaverAED/Lifesaving Techniques; home improvement and stress management and self-defense to help participants move forward.
*Efficient redistribution of market surplus: What local producers of food and other staples consider as “excess inventory” is also the means for needy families to put meals on their tables and other household goods (toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.) in their cupboard. BCS is the vital connection diverting those products that would otherwise be added to landfills to the homes of people who can use them.
*Our warehouse distribution facility provides access to healthy foods that promote healthy eating choices for food insecure households. Proteins such as beef, chicken, turkeys, smoked meats and cold cuts; dairy such as fresh milk, butter, cottage cheese, yogurts, eggs and juices; fresh salads, vegetables and fruits; numerous non-perishables; high quality baked goods and breads and even fresh soups from area restaurants. Also, we provide personal needs products such as shampoo, soap, vitamins, deodorant, toothpaste, razors and more. We also receive beautiful plants/flowers and seasonal items that our clientele is certainly grateful for as they simply do not have the disposable income to afford these items.
*With the money participants save on these crucial staples, BCS families are able to pursue goals that move them away from the bankruptcies, evictions and foreclosures that threaten them, and on to financial stability. BCS empowers participants through accountability and setting of goals, fostering their capacity to give back through volunteerism in an environment of community.
*Each participant tracks their forward progress as they follow a prepared workable budget for their households. They also prepare Bentley Progress Reports that are due June 1 and December 1 each year where their results, measurements and outcomes are reported as we work along with them to attain their self-stated goals.
*A corporate culture founded on principles of compassion, stewardship and integrity.
For more information, please visit our website at www.bentleycommunityservices.org
and Facebook page.