Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. held a joint press conference with Meeting Emergency Needs with Dignity (MEND) to announce the a countywide on-line food drive between June 1 and July 15 to provide fresh produce and other food for residents via the MEND Essex County food pantry partners.
“Summertime is a slow period for donations to Food Pantries, but a time of great need for many families throughout Essex County. As a result of high unemployment, foreclosures and rising food costs, our residents are dealing with many difficult situations,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
“It is imperative that we all do what we can to help stock the shelves. We are proud to partner with Congressman Payne and MEND to promote this new online food drive initiative so that we are able to continue meeting the needs of the 90,000+ individuals that utilize MEND’s services,” he added.
“School is out, summer break has begun and many people are leaving for vacation. There is not a holiday season in the summer where people stop and think to give to those who are less fortunate,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr.
“There are many in our community who are in dire need, and over the last few years, the number of families who struggle to make ends meet has risen. So we are making it even easier for people to give and support those in need through MEND’s online donation shopping service.”
For senior citizens on fixed incomes, disabled individuals, and underemployed families, food insecurity remains a constant source of anxiety. In the West Orange school district alone, it is estimated over 1,400 children may not get three meals a day. The Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry has been one of MEND's participating pantries and has seen families continue to struggle as cuts to unemployment and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) increase.
MEND is a network of 18 interfaith food pantries in Essex County which served more than 90,000 Essex County residents in 2013. Both MEND and Curbing Hunger are 501(c)(3) recognized charitable organizations. MEND was formed in 1980. Curbing Hunger has been running a June food drive for 20 years and over that time has collected and distributed more than 2.2 million pounds of food.