Fighting against hunger

Annual “Battle of the Hamptons” is collecting food for Jesus Focus Ministry and Assumption BVM

Some friendly competition: The townships of Northampton, Upper Southampton and Lower Southampton are competing in the annual “Battle of the Hamptons,” which pits the communities against each other to see which can collect the most pounds of nonperishable food items over a three-week span. Source: Jesus Focus Ministry Food Pantry at Bethanna

Earlier this year, millions of viewers anxiously awaited the legendary “Battle of Winterfell” on the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which saw beloved characters take on the feared Night King and his army of the living dead.

Currently, three Bucks County towns are in the midst of their own battle. But unlike the fantasy world of Westeros, created by the unique mind of George R.R. Martin, what they’re fighting is all too real — hunger.

Once again, the townships of Northampton, Upper Southampton and Lower Southampton are competing in the annual “Battle of the Hamptons,” which pits the communities against each other to see which can collect the most pounds of nonperishable food items over a three-week span.

The donations of Northampton and Upper Southampton go to Jesus Focus Ministry Food Pantry at Bethanna, located at 1030 Second Street Pike, Southampton, while the donations of Lower Southampton are given to Assumption BVM Church Food Bank, located at 1900 Meadowbrook Road, Feasterville-Trevose.

The idea behind a local food drive began several years ago with Lynne Tomlinson, Northampton’s director of human resources.

“It started out to be first the employees,” she said. “We had interdepartmental competitions.”

After quickly gaining traction, Tomlinson opened the initiative up to Northampton residents, who generously aided in the township’s efforts to stock the pantry’s shelves. In 2016, Tomlinson decided it was time to shake things up a little, and challenged Upper Southampton to the very first township “battle.” The following year, she invited Lower Southampton to get involved, and the community happily obliged.

In 2018, Northampton came out victorious, collecting 5,431 pounds of food. Upper Southampton was second with 3,286 pounds, and Lower Southampton finished in third with 1,085. This year, in order to keep the competition fair, the winner will be determined based on new criteria.

“Because of the different sizes in population, we decided that bragging rights goes to whoever gets the highest percentage of increase over last year,” Tomlinson said.

All nonperishable food items are accepted as long as they are not expired.

“I used to like to buy cereal but you know, that doesn’t weigh very much,” Tomlinson said with a laugh. “They need everything. They need staples like pasta and sauces, canned fruits, peanut butter and jelly is always big. Birthday cake mixes because so many of these children of the families that are using the pantry don’t get a birthday cake. So cake mix and frosting combos. And baby food. That’s another thing that they sometimes don’t have.”

Dawn Chavous, public relations representative for Bethanna, expressed her excitement over being one of the beneficiaries of the “Battle of the Hamptons.” On average, the pantry distributes more than 19,000 meals annually to area children, adults and seniors, with donations vital to its operations.

“The ‘Battle of the Hamptons’ is one of our most successful events and last year brought in over 8,000 pounds of food,” Chavous said. “We are grateful for the generosity of the Northampton Township Police Department and the Upper Southampton Township Police Department, along with the community’s outpouring of support, which allows us to continue our program of providing meals to children, families and seniors who are in need. The ‘Battle of the Hamptons’ is a friendly competition between the townships, but the real winner is the pantry and the families it serves.”

Northampton’s food drive runs through Aug. 2, with collection bins at various township locations including the administration building (55 Township Road), police headquarters (50 Township Road), Free Library of Northampton Township (25 Upper Holland Road), James E. Kinney Senior Center (165 Township Road), summer camps and pool. The Northampton Township Police Department will again host its “Fill the HumVee” campaign at the Acme Market (800 2nd Street Pike), with the exact date and time to be posted on the NTPD Facebook page, facebook.com/NTPD54.

Upper Southampton is accepting items at Giant Food Stores (466 2nd Street Pike) on Aug. 2-3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at its Administration Building, 939 Street Road.

Lower Southampton’s food drive runs through July 31 at the Lower Southampton Township Building (1500 Desire Ave.), Lower Southampton Public Library (1983 Bridgetown Pike), Dolphin Swim Club (260 W. Bristol Road), Joseph E. Ferderbar Elementary School (300 Heights Lane), Playwicki Farm (2350 Bridgetown Pike) and Russell E. Elliot Memorial Park (152 Buck Road).

“It’s a very friendly competition and we all keep in mind the ultimate goal, which is to help the food pantry. But there is definitely a competitive element to this. The police departments talk a little smack back and forth and post videos, stuff like that,” Tomlinson said. “We just hope that everybody gets behind this like they have in years prior.” ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com