Interfaith Food Pantry's New Headquarters Open in Time for Thanksgiving Donations
MORRIS PLAINS — The opening of the Interfaith Food Pantry's new headquarters at Central Park of Morris County could not come at a better time, according to Liliana Henao, client services manager for the food bank.
The food pantry earlier this month began distributing turkeys and holiday items to clients who visit monthly, in addition to the 1,100 Thanksgiving baskets it expects to hand out through the holiday, while donations are only beginning to come in, Henao said.
“We really need help from the community to meet all the requests,” Henao said. “We never know until the last minute exactly how many people will be seeking assistance. We are worried because there is now such a short time to collect and distribute the food. We really need the help quickly.”
Items in need, she said, include turkeys, instant or fresh potatoes, stuffing, gravy, fresh or canned yams, roll mix, pie crust, brownie or cake mix, icing, 100 percent juice, coffee and tea.
County and pantry officials on Tuesday held a ceremony to mark the opening of the food bank's new 14,000-square-foot facility on 2 Executive Drive, adjacent to the home of the Interfaith Council for Homeless Families and the New Jersey AIDS Services in the heart of what Morris County officials call their nonprofit mall. The location accommodates more donations and includes a “client choice” shopping center and a commercial teaching kitchen.
Funding for the new building came from 750 donors including foundations, corporations, civic groups and local families who contributed with funds and in-kind materials and constructed on land provided by Morris County, according to Carolyn Lake, assistant director of the food pantry.
Nine-year-old Nicholas Rocco, who cracked open up his piggy bank last year to donate $14 to the pantry's capital campaign, was one of the special guests honored. Trustee Pat Palumbo thanked Nicholas for his generous contribution and for encouraging his brothers to donate as well, she said.
The Interfaith Food Pantry helps families make ends meet by supplementing their monthly groceries in times of need. Applications are taken, and food is provided. Last year, the food pantry served nearly 5,000 Morris County households, distributing 747,000 pounds of food, Lake said.
The Interfaith Food Pantry and Literacy Volunteers of Morris County will host their fifth annual “Turkey Trot” five-kilometer race and one-mile fun run and walk at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving at the Ginty Field Complex in Morris Township. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Interfaith Food Pantry and Literacy Volunteers of Morris County. Register online at www.practicehard.com.
Last year, the race drew 2,200 runners and raised about $20,000 for each agency.
“It's a great way to burn off those calories before your Thanksgiving dinner and a really fun way to help many Morris County families with their basic needs,” said Rosemary Gilmartin, the executive director of the food pantry. “It's difficult enough to get by in the current economy, and a lack of literacy in English is a nearly impossible barrier to overcome to reach higher-paying jobs. Together with the Literacy Volunteers we can have a great impact in helping people help themselves.”
In addition to Thanksgiving items, the most urgent needs at the Interfaith Food Pantry, according to its website, include low-salt canned vegetables; dry beans and canned beans (pinto, red, white, black and pork and beans); canned fruit (low-sugar or light-syrup); canned meats and meals; Parmalat (shelf-stable 32-ounce size) and dry milk (individual packets); hearty soups and low-salt soups; brown and white rice (1- and 2-pound bags); cereal; pasta and whole wheat pasta; peanut butter; tea; spaghetti and tomato sauce; and side dishes.
Tuesday's ceremony also included remarks by Ann Marie Manahan, the president of the food pantry board of trustees, Morris County Freeholder John Murphy and Ed Walsh, President of The Walsh Company. The Walsh Company was the Owner's Rep on the project.