North Hunterdon University student Honored by County for Flemington Spot Food stuff Pantry Photo voltaic Project

Catrina P. Smith

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Many thanks to the attempts and foresight of a Hunterdon County 11th quality college student and his spouse and children, the Flemington Space Foodstuff Pantry is very well-outfitted for 2021 and over and above with a green initiative to electricity sections of its facility applying solar vitality.

On Nov. 18, county officials joined the foodstuff pantry for a ribbon-slicing to rejoice its new 33-kilowatt solar panel technique set up on the roof. The photo voltaic panels are prepared to help cut down some of its once-a-year energy bill of $10,556 (as famous in 2019).

At the Board of Picked Freeholders Dec. 1 assembly, North Hunterdon Significant Faculty junior Evan Kuster was regarded for his attempts to volunteer and help the Flemington Area Food Pantry, and in particular with this innovative challenge.

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Kuster his father, Tom, explained the objectives of exploring approaches to help an in-need, trustworthy local community nonprofit organization in the meals pantry with its need to decrease its carbon footprint and plan for much more sustainable, affordable power use at the facility on Route 31.

Tom Kuster is knowledgeable in all engineering and enterprise areas of the solar strength advancement sector, at the moment the CEO for Advantage SI, LLC, a photo voltaic engineering agency based mostly in Clinton. Years in the past, he explained, he introduced his son to the industry, and many good influences and interests have made owing to this experience.
Evan Kuster claimed he is fortuitous to operate on this undertaking, giving again when combining two of his pursuits with a extraordinary local community-oriented project.

“Being around my father and his company’s solar engineering do the job I was exposed to the discipline a ton, and past summer time I took an environmental sustainability system,” Kuster reported. “The improvements and functioning to obtain new options, difficulty-resolving with creativeness, appeals to me. I have constantly been intrigued in local climate improve and helping our earth. Sustainability is an desire and goal as I carry on my schooling. I would like to research a lot more and eventually function in a S.T.E.M. area, irrespective of whether that’s pursuing an engineering diploma with a small in environmental sustainability, or a linked subject matter.”

He advised the freeholder board Dec. 1 that the photo voltaic array has 3 crucial advantages. First, it will help save funds invested on energy expenditures, and the cash saved can be spent on foodstuff for Hunterdon County family members and people in need.

The possible 40-yr practical life of the photo voltaic panels will gain the food items pantry’s functions for many years to come, with inexperienced infrastructure and sustainability, Kuster said.

Third, Kuster stated, this undertaking supplied the Flemington area and Hunterdon County with an case in point of how firms can be part of jointly in a collective objective, allocating their time, money and knowledge to advantage the local community and for the increased fantastic.

Freeholder Board Deputy Director Sue Soloway and Freeholder Zach Loaded attended the Nov. 18 ribbon cutting for the new solar array at the Flemington Spot Foods Pantry.

“As a young volunteer at the food pantry, Evan noticed a will need, and as an alternative of saying ‘what if,’ he basically adopted through with this outstanding notion,” she explained. “He spoke with his father Tom about it and the two of them collaborated and approached solar field providers, they got the panels and supplies donated and electricians to occur operate wires for the set up. Kudos and thank you, Evan.”
Kuster’s photo voltaic panel array thought was to start with talked over just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s spread back again in March and the ensuing shutdowns throughout large sections of the region’s economy. Previous wintertime, while volunteering on-web site, he 1st informally talked over the solar job notion with Jeannine Gorman, govt director of the Flemington Region Food Pantry.

Prior to the pandemic and continuing through spring, summer time and drop, Kuster was volunteering at the Flemington Area Food Pantry by unloading donations of food stuff that arrived off trucks, stocking the cabinets and wiping down the browsing carts consumers use. Whilst volunteering, he noticed the major usage of the food items pantry’s freezers and fridges as much more food needs to be stored fresh and cooled for men and women who finally decide up the groceries.

Following bringing his concept to Gorman in April, Kuster set collectively and shipped, via Zoom, his presentation on a solar venture and its opportunity funding to the meals pantry’s nonprofit board of administrators. Recognizing the ambitions of a brilliant student volunteer, and with visits to the food pantry having multiplied thanks to the economic downturn and meals insecurity professional by additional individuals, supporting the group in a new way was clearly a welcome endeavor.

The board voted to approve Kuster’s undertaking soon after.

“After Jeannine gave him the go-ahead, Evan labored with individuals on my staff, and they submitted the photo voltaic proposal to Jersey Central Electric power & Light (utility provider for the Food items Pantry) to make certain it would be permitted,” Tom Kuster explained. “By the time of his formal presentation before the board, we previously discovered the utilities could approve and coordinate with this as well, and the meals pantry’s board was very supportive. I give the pantry’s board and leadership a lot of credit history as they took the gamble that a large university student could deliver in enough donations to make this remarkable challenge happen.”

His son was still a sophomore at North Hunterdon when this proposal was sent. While numerous region pupils have been possessing some summertime leisure routines, Evan Kuster was working on the solar venture, and he reported this presented a time for the initiatives to be targeted in comparison with the arduous curriculum and scholastic pursuits as he entered his junior calendar year.

Kuster shared the positive aspects volunteering can give his peers and some others in the county. He and his father also pointed out their terrific encounters volunteering with America’s Expand-a-Row in Pittstown. The Hunterdon County farm, founded and operate by Chip Paillex with his daughter Kyra,  donates its make to the Flemington Place Food Pantry and other charitable and outreach corporations in the county and location.

To date, the Hunterdon County-based mostly nonprofit has donated 12.58 million kilos of fresh fruits and vegetables to charity.

“One relatively uncomplicated point any college student or any man or woman in Hunterdon County can do is just be ready to donate your time in the community, volunteer at the Flemington Space Foods Pantry or in one thing else,” Kuster mentioned. “Just providing back is a excellent hard work for superior college learners in certain, and I will continue to volunteer at the foodstuff pantry and in the group and I am hopeful a lot more prospects to do photo voltaic assignments that enable the community occur up.”

Kuster plays position guard on the North Hunterdon Large Faculty boys basketball staff, and with the year postponed, he prepared out times this month to be current at the foods pantry.

Soloway famous previously in the fall that there has been a remarkable surge with help by the nonprofit, with about 400 newly “enrolled” Hunterdon families serviced by the Flemington Place Foodstuff Pantry, none of whom required the assistance prior to the pandemic. In excess of the to start with six months of 2020, a 30 p.c increase in customer participation with the food stuff pantry was recorded.

On its web page, the pantry notes that, “Some of our customers are homeless, other people may perhaps be residing in govt-supported motels or residences. Continue to some others could be lengthy-time inhabitants of Hunterdon County and are managing to stay in their possess households, but do not have adequate profits to obtain food stuff. All purchasers fulfill eligibility specifications that carefully comply with these of The Unexpected emergency Foodstuff Support Application (TEFAP) of the U.S. Office of Agriculture.”

With around 17 many years in the photo voltaic engineering industry, Tom Kuster and his colleagues at the Clinton place of work have a potent regional network of suppliers, suppliers and contacts. Evan Kuster despatched letters to numerous businesses and modest enterprises, soliciting their donations to the food items pantry photo voltaic undertaking.

Tom Kuster mentioned the local community of individuals who determined to appear collectively for the unified goal of supporting the initiative his son laid out for the Flemington Spot Food items Pantry.

Even though a number of New Jersey space photo voltaic industry businesses furnished quite significant funding or resources, from wiring, mounting, the scissor lift to accessibility the roof and a Sunny Tripower Core1 inverter (donated by SMA America), other people pitched in with the donations of their time, abilities and experience. That provided Flemington-primarily based Professional Circuit Electrical Contracting, installers of the new rooftop photo voltaic array.

“We witnessed the electrical power of this state’s photo voltaic field community coming alongside one another, and, even with the pandemic, they’ve all contributed to this venture and it took a lot of coordinated work,” Tom Kuster stated. “Many people stepped forward and assisted out by applying their gifts to get this accomplished. Professional Circuit furnished the professional bono electrical and normal labor, the time of their electricians and these men right here in Flemington arrived via to put in it on what was their off days. I give all those gentlemen a large amount of credit.”

The installations of the panels and their performance was concluded by the initial 50 percent of November, and just a couple of minor punch list merchandise stay fantastic, Kuster stated. He mentioned that the panels are set up at the back of the making mainly because that does not develop an unpleasing aesthetic effect for the exterior.

Kuster observed that when lots of contracting, building and connected industries saw issues in the course of the pandemic, he is thankful that the initiatives ended up aided because of to stable company for his business as photo voltaic installations and the similar engineering and contracting small business were deemed as one of the important companies or significant infrastructure industries all through the pandemic, as a result continuing to run all through this 12 months.

“I give Gov. (Phil) Murphy credit rating for recognizing the solar engineering market, with its suppliers and suppliers, as an crucial aspect of the condition,” he mentioned.
Gorman has noted, as written in the county’s proclamation for Evan Kuster, the value-price savings the 33-kilowatt process could attain for the area nonprofit group, what she estimates as the price tag for 6,360 foods the food pantry will offer to Hunterdon County citizens.

For information and facts on donating, you should pay a visit to or contact 908-788-5568.


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