Mabel Kay Senior Center and SCUCS are working together to feed local senior citizens in need, but during the summer months, the two groups struggle to combat a decline in food donations.
Year-round, the Mabel Kay Senior Center is the official food dropoff center for seniors in need in Camden County. While the center experiences a steady stream of donations when students are in school and during the holiday season, donations see a sharp decline come summer.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t know that we’re here and don’t know that we’re a collection site for the needy,” Senior Center Coordinator Nancy McCrudden said.
Donations slow in July and August, McCrudden said. She said with kids out of school and families leaving town on vacations, people are not thinking about donating with the same frequency as they do around the holidays.
The items collected at Mabel Kay are picked up by Senior Citizens United Community Services, which administers the Camden County Nutrition Program. SCUCS, located in Audubon, serves seniors in need from Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, Mt. Ephraim and other neighboring towns.
Come October, donations will pick back up as the holiday season approaches, and the barrel located outside Mabel Kay will fill, warranting two to three SCUCS pickups a month. In recent weeks, however, donations have been scarce, McCrudden said.
Stephen Considine, chief executive officer at SCUCS, said Mabel Kay is the only permanent, on-site location that SCUCS collects from, but closer to the holidays, it will have temporary food banks pop up at various locations for donations. Schools often hold drives that benefit SCUCS as well, Considine said.
All non-perishable food items collected are taken back to SCUCS’ Audubon location to be sorted by volunteers. The food pantry volunteers ensure the food is not expired, rotate the food items so nothing sits on the shelves too long and make up bags for distribution.
SCUCS services between 75 and 100 families, Considine said. Seniors are screened based on location, income and assets to determine their need.
“We want to make sure everyone gets the opportunity,” Considine said.
If they have insufficient donations to make up their bags, Considine said they have to use grant money distributed to them from the Camden County Division of Senior Services to purchase additional food. SCUCS anticipates donations slowing in the summer months and tries to budget for the decline each year.
McCrudden said Mabel Kay even placed local advertisements encouraging donations to try to help generate awareness about the need for donations.
Mabel Kay has worked with SCUCS for nearly five years, and for both organizations, the goal is the same — ensuring the health and wellbeing of local seniors.
“The seniors are why we’re here,” McCrudden said. “We care greatly about the seniors in town and in the surrounding towns. We want to see them remain healthy and independent.”
Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Mabel Kay Senior Center, which is located at 24 Walnut St. For more information on donating to Mabel Kay, call (856) 354–8789. For more information on SCUCS and its nutrition program for seniors, visit http://scucs.org.