Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity

MEND is a network of 17 interfaith food pantries located throughout Essex County, NJ. Our hunger relief network, the largest in Essex County, has been providing food to individuals and families in need since 1980. MEND is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that advocates for policies to improve the quality of life for those in need in the County. Below are a few of the services MEND offers to our network of pantries.


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2016 MEND Impact


Number of pantries in MEND’s network


Number of people served annually by MEND


Percentage of people served who are children


Percentage of the Essex County population who are ‘food insecure”


Estimated number of Essex County population who are ‘food insecure”


Pounds of fresh food distributed through Healthy Pantries, Healthy Patrons Program in 2017


Sixty-two year old Peggy* is disabled and has been getting by with the help of SSI benefits. In the spring, tragedy struck her family when her son was shot and killed. After the shooting, Peggy took custody of her twelve-year-old granddaughter, Tessa*. She is grateful to be able to care for Tessa, but making ends meet is a struggle.  At her local MEND pantry, Peggy receives much-needed groceries. And during this holiday season, MEND’s Help–A-Family Program allowed Peggy to shop for groceries and prepare a delicious holiday dinner. And Tessa celebrated the holidays with new clothing wrapped and waiting for her!

The big Thanksgiving distribution at the food pantry went well and the volunteers went home tired but relieved they were had enough turkeys on hand for all 250 families who came that day. A few days later, when Ellen was preparing her own Thanksgiving dinner, she heard a ping from her phone with a very unexpected text message. There was a photo showing a full plate of traditional Thanksgiving foods, including turkey and all the sides. The words that followed were from one of the pantry’s patrons, a mom who said thank you so much for helping me feed my family on this special day!


When Kate returned to volunteer at her local pantry, she learned things had changed a lot in the decade since she’d last been involved. The two dozen regulars had grown to more than one hundred – and so many younger families with children!  Food donations had grown too; but not enough to meet the needs of so many families. As Kate looked at the bare pantry shelves, panic set in. What would she say to the families coming to the pantry on Saturday? She called MEND and within a day, a small truck arrived at the pantry filled with essential grocery items.  Kate and the other volunteers were able to restock the pantry in time to serve every one of their families in need.