Melillo Consulting Celebrates 30 Years In Business With Donation To Franklin Food Bank

Frank Hasner, Dan Sytsma, Karen and Mark Mellillo, left to right, after the donation presentation.

The Franklin Food Bank was the beneficiary May 15 of a local firm’s celebration of three decades in business.

Melillo Consulting, headquartered on Davidson Avenue, held a celebration and check presentation at the Canal Road farm owned by founder Mark Melillo. The farm has supplied thousands of pounds of fresh produce to food bank clients over the past six years.

Standing around a large boulder inscribed for the occasion of the company’s 30th anniversary, Melillo, his wife Karen and company president Dan Sytsma presented a $3,000 donation to Frank Hasner, the food bank’s executive director.

The money was raised during the company’s kickoff meeting in February, the theme of which was “Winning with a Cause,” Sytsma said. He said a trivia game was played among teams of employees, and the winning team decided to make a donation to the food bank.

“The Franklin Food Bank is just an awesome charity,” Sytsma said to Hasner. “I had the chance to play in your golf tournament last year, and I came home and told my wife I never saw people more enthusiastic about their charity.”

In accepting the donation, Hasner told the group that they “are helping people right here with something that we know we all need.”

“When I think about the Franklin Food Bank, I think local, because we’re Franklin Township and that’s primarily who we serve, and tangible, food, something basic,” he said. “It’s about as real as you can get.”

Hasner said the agency is devising a way to allow its clients to pick their food, much as shoppers do when they’re at a grocery store, rather than have pre-packed packages handed to them.

Melillo Consulting employees and executives gather around the anniversary rock.

“It’s not just only about what we can get, its about dignity,” he said.

Two growing fields on the Melillo property, amounting to about 1.25 acres, have grown about 7,000 pounds of produce just over the past two years, all of which was donated to the food bank.

Melillo said he decided to create the mini-farm several years ago, after Hasner spoke about “farmers feeding the hungry” one Sunday at their church, Middlebush Reformed Church.

“I thought that’s perfect, I’m growing food and selling it, I don’t really need the money, this was more of love of the land,” he said. “I was like, what a perfect combination. And then Frank and I started talking and we started with a small field and moved to a bigger field, and now we have irrigation. It’s kind of evolved.”

The field closest to Canal Road, measuring about a half-acre, grows sweet corn, he said. A field closer to the main house, comprised of about three-quarters of an acre, grows vegetables.

A 3/4-acre min-farm on the Melillo property that grows vegetables.

Local farmer Ryck Suydam assists Melillo with some heavy machinery to promote irrigation, he said.

Melillo said he also relies on volunteers – arranged by the food bank – to help weed the plots.

Melillo, a Hillsborough resident, said he enjoys working in the fields before he goes to work.

“I get up, come over here, put a few hours in the fields,” he said. “It’s nice.”



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