TOMS RIVER – Fulfill, the local food bank for Ocean and Monmouth Counties, has donated hygiene kits to high schoolers within the Toms River Regional Schools community.
Fulfill donated 1,000 mesh drawstring bags each containing items such as shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, shaving cream, and feminine hygiene products to distribute to students.
The idea was created by Erin Leo, a food sourcing and nutrition specialist at Fulfill, who wanted to help teenage students who may feel hesitant to accept other forms of assistance and obtain these often-pricey personal care items.
One of Fulfill’s major programs is the backpack program, where students are sent home with Ziploc bags of shelf stable food that can be eaten throughout the weekend until school reopens the following week.
“I am very well aware that students tend to fall off the [backpack] program as they get older, even as early as 6th grade, and very few high schoolers participate in the program,” said Leo. “Hygiene items are expensive, and I thought high schoolers might be willing to receive this type of ‘backpack’ over the food ones.”
With the ongoing pandemic, many students and families need more help than ever. Toms River Schools currently offers free breakfast and lunch to all students in the district through its food services department.
Over the summer, the Ocean County YMCA partnered with Fulfill to conduct the Summer Meals Program that provided healthy, nutritious snacks and lunches to around 5,000 Toms River children.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Fulfill to help families in need in our school community,” said Assistant Superintendent James Ricotta. “We can’t thank the organization enough for its continued generosity and for providing the hygiene kits to our high school students.”