Founded in 1980, Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity (MEND) is a hunger relief network based in Essex County, NJ. Our mission is to strengthen the health of our community by increasing access to fresh and healthy food. We envision a community in which everyone has access to nutritious food and the ability to achieve their optimal health.

MEND continually seeks feedback from pantry leaders and community partners, prioritizes the needs of patrons, and focuses on sourcing high quality, culturally relevant, fresh and healthy food, with the intent to transform hunger relief from the traditional “emergency food” model to one that is focused on dignity and respect.

Beyond Food

In 2024, MEND launched the Food & Health Equity Coalition of Essex County. This Coalition will identify and address the greatest barriers to food and health equity across Essex County, and will share existing assets and resources for greater collaborative and collective impact in addressing the root causes of hunger.

Pantry Partnerships

MEND regularly convenes leaders from over 20 food pantries in Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Maplewood, Montclair, Newark, Orange, South Orange, and West Orange, NJ. Working in partnership, we source supplemental fresh and healthy food, connect resources, and raise funds to increase the pantries’ capacity.

MEND Member Pantry List


MEND on the Move

Launched in 2022 as a year-round program, mobile markets and home deliveries are designed collaboratively with over 25 community partners, enabling MEND to reduce barriers to accessing nutritious food by bringing food directly and consistently to those who need it most.

With home deliveries made possible by Amazon in the Community, as well as free farmers’ markets hosted by MEND at select locations, this program has provided over 78,000 servings of fresh and healthy food to those in need since its inception!

“I have a large family and MEND food and fresh vegetables and fruit fills in the gaps during pay periods. Thank you for your kindness.”

– MOTM Patron, 2023

This program is funded in part by generous support from Baillie Gifford, Healthcare Foundation of NJ, Reitman Foundation, and Nourishing Newark.