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!
Number of member food pantries in MEND’s network
Number of people served by MEND pantries in 2021
Percentage of people served who are children
Average meal cost in Essex County, NJ (versus SNAP benefit of $3.02 per meal)
County in NJ with the highest food insecurity rate in the state.
Pounds of supplemental fresh food provided to pantries and patrons in 2021
2019 MEND Pantry Numbers
Total Clients Served
Apostles' House Food Pantry, Newark
Blessed Sacrament Church Food Pantry, Newark
Bloomfield Church on the Green Food Pantry, Bloomfield
Church Women United Food Pantry, Irvington
Elizabeth Ave. Weequahic Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, Newark
Elmwood Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, East Orange
First Hopewell Baptist Church Food Pantry, Newark
First Seventh Day Adventist Church Food Pantry, Montclair
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church Food Pantry, West Orange
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Food Pantry, East Orange
Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges, Orange
Isaiah House Food Pantry, East Orange
New Hope Baptist Church Food Pantry, East Orange
Our Lady of Sorrows Church Food Pantry, South Orange
Parish of the Transfiguration Food Pantry, Newark
Roseville Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, Newark
St. James Social Service Corporation Food Pantry, Newark
St. Joseph’s Church Food Pantry, Maplewood
St. Mary’s Church/Pierre Toussaint Food Pantry, Newark
United Community Corporation Food Pantry, Newark
Total number of people served: 167,427
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.
Denise Hall, a patron of the New Hope Baptist Church food pantry, appreciates the healthy food options the pantry provides, given her health issues and financial challenges.Read Denise’s Story