Winter can be particularly difficult for the food-insecure families and individuals who shop for free in the pantries of the Crisis Ministry. In response, the county-based nonprofit organization asks the community to support its 12th annual Valentines for Food drive to keep shelves filled with a variety of heart-healthy foods.

Struggling families and individuals will visit the Crisis Ministry’s pantries more than 21,000 times in 2016, making Valentines for Food donations and financial support vital. With Valentines for Food sponsorship from McCaffrey’s Supermarkets and partnership with Rotary Club of Princeton, area schools and congregations and hundreds of generous individuals, the Crisis Ministry can alleviate hunger for more families while raising awareness of food insecurity in Mercer County.

As part of the food drive, McCaffrey’s Princeton and West Windsor stores will sell $4.99 “Valentines for Food” from February 6 to 14. McCaffrey’s will match shopper purchases dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.

Residents can also send “Virtual Valentines” or contribute to a “Virtual Food Drive.” With Virtual Valentines, $10 each, the Crisis Ministry sends special greetings to donors’ designated friends or loved ones. With the Virtual Food Drive, donors choose the food that will be purchased.

Visit thecrisisministry.org to learn about and sign up for a community outreach shift at McCaffrey’s. Schools and congregations interested in holding a food drive can call the Crisis Ministry or visit thecrisisministry.org for details.

The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, assists some 5,000 Mercer County households annually through integrated services addressing food insecurity and healthy living; housing stability and homelessness prevention; and work-ready training and job search mentoring. Visit thecrisisministry.org or call (609) 396-9355 to learn more.