As the need for food increases, Debbie Brolsma finds a way to give back to the community


Photo Credit: Debbie Brolsma

by Aarav Kochar, Sports Editor

After a year of waiting, the holiday season has finally arrived. Many got the opportunity to enjoy their Thanksgiving with their families by celebrating different festivities, and of course, carry on the longtime tradition of preparing and eating a feast together.
However, according to the USDA, about 38 million people were not able to enjoy this holiday, because they are food insecure. In other words, they don’t have food on the table to eat. This number is set to gradually increase over time, thanks to the pandemic still in effect, crippling these families economically. Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs, meaning that they have to resort towards soup kitchens and food banks to eat. Even in high income communities like Glen Rock and our neighboring towns, families still suffer with food insecurity. Prior to COVID-19, at least 1 in 14 residents in Bergen County were experiencing food insecurity, according to Feeding America. Today, we know from recent surveys that in a single week in Bergen County, up to 20,000+ people will rely on donated food. This is an alarming number that we are faced with. People around the world are making efforts to reduce this number through various clubs and organizations to reach a common goal-nobody left hungry.
Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Little steps in the right direction can help us achieve this goal. This is exactly what Brolsma, the leader of the Interact Club, did as she put together her annual Thanksgiving Food Drive in order to help the needy.
Brolsma is a teacher at the Glen Rock High School. She is a special education teacher, as well as a math teacher. She teaches across all grade levels primarily as a math teacher. She has been a part of this Glen Rock community for most of her life, as she is a Glen Rock High School alumna. Specifically, she has been a part of this community for 45 years. Throughout her life, she has been under the constant influence in helping and giving back to her community, starting since her childhood.
“I was always involved in community service and giving back to the people, either through my own church and also when I was here. We didn’t specifically have the Interact club when I was here. I’m also from a large family, and we were taught to give and help others,” Brolsma said.
Brolsma is the advisor to the Interact Club, which is a service organization at the high school. They conduct several different service projects around the year, looking to give back to the community. One of their feats around this time is the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. The Food Drive is a part of the Star of Hope Mission, a nonprofit church in Paterson, as per Brolsma.
“So several years ago the committee said we were going to do our regular food drives which went to the pantry. I said why don’t we branch off a little bit and we will specifically ask the departments at school to fill boxes if they want and every department was excited about it and they all came on board,” she stated.
The Interact Club ended up filling 15 of the 25 boxes for donation, with items including canned vegetables, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, rice, stuffing, turkey gravy, and even things like cranberry sauce, as well as typical things like Peanut Butter and Jelly, cake mix and frosting, and tuna. The Interact Club has been doing this specific food drive for the past 8 years, going strong.
These food drives have played a significant role in Brolsma’s life.
“The bottom line is that you just gotta give back to your community. You never know when it might be your turn to need help in any way and so you know there are people out there who are willing to help. I have to say as well, this community as a whole embraces a lot of our efforts to do community service, whether that be the businesses in town to the families and kids,” Brolsma said.
Such a small act can go a long way, as the Interact club is inspiring change in their local communities.
“Even the smallest little act, you never know what a big impact you are making on somebody else. It doesn’t take much to get a smile out of somebody, to get a thank you to help them out and you don’t realize how much you are changing their day, or their attitude, or their lives,” she stated.