While families prepare to indulge in a Thanksgiving feast nationwide, there are those who need a little extra help and neighborly support to celebrate this holiday tradition. For this occasion, the Secaucus Emergency Food Pantry offered a special holiday basket to 90 families in town this past week that included items such as stuffing, gravy, mashed potato, canned corn, and cranberry sauce.
“We have a list of less fortunate families that we [supplied] items for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal,” said Lisa Snedeker, director of senior and social services.
The pantry has seen an increase in the number of families it serves on a regular basis since it moved to a more spacious location in April. The space, located at 210 Meadowlands Parkway, offers up to 3,000 square feet with room for shelves stocked with non-perishable items, refrigerators and freezers, and donated furniture.
Serving more families
“The amount of families varies monthly. Some families we help weekly, while for some it’s just a supplement to help them get through the month,” said Snedeker. “[We serve] approximately 50 families currently and the increase, since April, is nearly doubled.”
“Anyone who is hungry from our town is eligible to receive food.” – Lisa Snedeker
“Anyone who is hungry from our town is eligible to receive food,” said Snedeker. “We do ask that they come to the social services office first to sign up for county programs, like general assistance and food stamps.”
Families and individuals who have experienced a recent job loss or that are undergoing a difficult financial situation can also turn to the Secaucus Food Pantry for food and toiletries. The pantry offers a range of non-perishable items such as peanut butter, oatmeal, and canned fruit as well as personal products such as deodorant, toilet paper, toothpaste, and soap. The pantry also distributes frozen meats and products as well as fresh vegetables. Large families get up to six bags while individuals get one. Residents in need may receive food weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on need.
“People have lost jobs,” said Linda Potente, who works part-time for Social Services. She was on her way to deliver bags of food to a family. She understands the impact of the recession, especially since her husband was laid off from the Meadowlands Hospital in January when for-profit owners took over.
“It is sad because this is a small community,” she said in regard to the greater need.
Donations they need
The shelter has a wish list and seeks ongoing contributions. On a recent visit tables were stacked with donations and some of the shelves contained the Goya Food cans that came in from the company as part of their nationwide Goya Gives Campaign.
“All excess food donations, which is to say food we receive from companies that we could not possibly hand out, is donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries throughout Hudson County,” said Snedeker.
The Secaucus Food Pantry receives regular donations from a number of companies. Secaucus-based White Toque has given over $40,000 worth of frozen food, Restaurant Depot has contributed $500 worth, Inserra ShopRite another $500, and Foodtown gave $50. Community volunteer Pat Belenski seeks to get additional donations from groups like Sam’s Club, New York Produce, Pathmark, A & P, and other local food markets.
A van donated by the Meadowlands Hospital will soon serve as the vehicle for food deliveries.
The Secaucus Food Pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. Social Services asks that individuals in need register first. To make a donation or schedule an appointment, call Lisa Snedeker or Patt Jakubowski in the Department of Senior and Social Services at (201) 330-2014.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.