During the pandemic, many citizens have lost their jobs, have had their work hours cut, and have found that the limited resources they had no longer suffice. In times like these, it is fortunate that Montclair has caring institutions to support people until the national economic crisis improves.
At Shomrei, we have been concerned about the ever-expanding food insecurity in our town. One of our ongoing efforts has been our work in providing weekly dinners for people through MESH.
The Shomrei Social Action Committee created a subcommittee during Summer 2020 that would focus on food insecurity. One of our first initiatives was to connect with the Human Needs Food Pantry to collaborate on their annual Thanksgiving collection.
Since 1982, the Human Needs Food Pantry has been a lifeline. It has provided food, clothing, and other services to people in need who live in Montclair and neighboring communities in Essex County. Its diverse client base includes families and singles who are elderly, disabled, homebound, unemployed, or underemployed (working poor).
The Pantry has annually provided special bags of ingredients for their clients to prepare and enjoy a traditional meal at home at Thanksgiving. This year the number of family units has doubled to 700, and the Pantry was in need of greater community support to reach their goal of having enough food to share.
Mike Bruno, Executive director of HNFP, asked us to focus on three main items: cans of cranberry sauce, boxes of instant mashed potatoes, and gravy packets. Turkeys were welcome as well. We enlisted the help of the Shomrei membership and the JLC in making donations, either dropping off food in person at the Pantry, through mail order sent to HNFP, or through monetary donations.
Starting in the beginning of November, pledges of food were noted on our online sign up, and Shomrei’s generosity reflected the kind of compassionate community that we are. By the week before Thanksgiving, we were able to provide more than half of the cranberry sauce, instant mashed potatoes, and gravy mix that was needed and over 30 turkeys. In addition, the JLC contributed Thanksgiving cards and placemats to make each recipients’ meals more festive.
Thanks to all of you who actively contributed in this effort. We are all feeling so disconnected from one another. Being made aware of the needs in our community and having a way to help out brings us closer to one another and helps to overcome our sense of isolation.
Serendipitously, this morning the New York Time podcast, “The Daily”, presented an episode about the role of food pantries in the metropolitan area. You might find it interesting. Click here to listen to the podcast.