Each summer donations to food pantries dwindle, the result of vacationing donors, the absence of school and organization-based food drives and other factors. The timing is terrible, given that many children who normally eat free meals at school are now hungry at home. Compounding the problem, Deanna London, executive director of the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair, has noticed an uptick this month in the overall number of community members requesting groceries.
While some Northern New Jersey pantries are reporting nearly bare shelves, London affirms that those at her organization remain fairly well-stocked, but only because she must spend more funds to purchase food (at bulk and heavily discounted rates) to make up for summer donation shortfalls – at least $12,000 so far in July alone.
Residents who are concerned and would like to help are encouraged to donate food or funds, especially now, and home gardeners can send their surplus produce to the Pantry too.
“If you have a garden, we’d love more fresh produce. Also canned protein, brown (not white) rice, and of course tuna, pasta and sauce,” London explained. “We’re seeing more formerly employed people who need food – a nurse and a teacher came in this week.”
More of our neighbors need our help. London says her volunteers distributed bags of food to 91 walk-ins on Tuesday (“that’s a lot!”), and sent 166 more bags out for home delivery. Multiply that by several family members whose meals are prepared from those supplies, and you get a sense of what she is up against.
Donations to the Human Needs Food Pantry are accepted at 9 Label Street on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Distributions are available to those in need on the same days from 12:30 to 2:15.
Several other area organizations also meet the food needs of the community. And Toni’s Kitchen, on South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair, provides hot lunch on Thursday through Saturday, and dinner on Sundays.
Update: The Food Pantry at St. Agnes Church on Union Avenue in Little Falls, has issued a request for pasta, rice, beans, red sauce, tuna, peanut butter and crackers, as well as canned or dry food for cats and dogs. Non-perishable food can be dropped in a designated area in front of the church office doors. Those in need of donations may come the last Wednesday of each month from 4 to 7pm and the last Saturday of each month from 9 am to noon.