The COVID -19 Pandemic has created problems and stress for everyone. Many families have lost one or both incomes. People are feeling lonely and isolated. Some families are not eligible for food stamps, or their allotment does not meet the family’s needs. Many individuals and families are now struggling with food insecurities. Therefore, these families need to depend on food pantries to help feed their families.
The Human Services Division has always worked with pantries in neighboring communities to help subsidize the food needs of our residents. The pandemic has created difficulties for many families who normally travelled to food pantries in neighboring towns or had enough food to feed their families. Children are home from school and public transportation, which many take, is not safe. Therefore, Bloomfield Human Services decided to reach out to Toni’s Kitchen located in Montclair to help provide food for the families who would need food, but could not travel. In collaboration with Park United Methodist Church, an emergency food pantry has been established. The police pick up food twice a week at Toni’s kitchen and bring it to the church, which serves as a distribution site. The food includes prepared meals and/or a bag of groceries including but not limited to rice, various canned items, fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and meat/chicken. In addition, the Pastor of the church has supplemented the donation from Toni’s with food from the food bank. This collaboration of local non- profits, faith based organizations, local police and Human Services is enabling us to serve 800 people weekly in just four hours a week.
In addition, a pop up mobile pantry was opened at Carteret School on May 1st to serve residents in the 3rd ward who may not have transportation to other pantries across town. The mobile food pantry is available every Friday from 5-6pm to serve working families. Masks were distributed to residents during the first week. The food is also provided by Toni’s Kitchen and local food banks. The mobile food pantry has served over 200 families so far.
Collaboration with the Board of Education, NTNN, Human Services and police, who pick up 160 bags of groceries weekly from Toni’s kitchen and deliver lunch to distribution sites at four local schools.
We also have a food pantry serving residents at Heritage Village. This pantry is for Heritage Village residents only. The police pick up the food at Toni’s kitchen and drop it off in the building community room where it is distributed to our most vulnerable residents.
Applied and received $1500 for food insecurities from Albertson Foundation (Acme). A huge thank you to NJHCN for posting the grant opportunity.
Ongoing programs that were established before Pandemic:
Neighbor to Neighbor Network (NTNN) food delivery program and the Montclair Human Needs Food Pantry provides fresh groceries (fruit, vegetables, and chicken/meat) to 165 families each week. Delivering healthy food, mental health support and smiles to residents has prevented scrambling to find food and visits to the grocery store
NTNN volunteers pick up prepared food at Toni’s Kitchen for residents who can no longer cook. They deliver to over 25 homebound seniors a week.
Collaboration with JRA (Jewish Relief Agency). NTNN and Human Services screen residents for food insecurities and JRA delivers food and toiletries monthly. The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is collaborating with the NTNN and Human Services to provide feminine hygiene products at local food pantries. Local businesses and residents are also providing additional feminine hygiene products.
Collaboration with local community gardens, who have certain plots which are designated for donations. Vegetables are grown by volunteers and delivered to Human Services, when open, and pantries when not open to distribute to low income residents.
Local businesses and nonprofit organizations and residents continue to donate money, gift cards and grocery shop for vulnerable residents who cannot leave the house or struggle financially during this time.
Social workers continue to provide psychotherapy. Volunteers provide wellness phone calls and refer difficult situations to social workers. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner continues to provide medication evaluations and monitoring to clients. The need continues to grow for clinical therapy as environmental stressors and isolation increase depression and anxiety.
According to Paula Peikes, Human Services Director, “Our goal is to provide both physical and emotional support for residents as they go through this tough time and we are happy to be able to meet the needs as more people reach out to us.”
Volunteers contribute time, energy and their hearts to provide the necessities to the community. The volunteers and community partners provide a meaningful and immeasurable impact on the lives of the individuals and families we serve.
About the Grantee
To prevent disease and promote physical and mental well-being through policy development, disease detection, prevention, education and enforcement; in a culturally competent manner that ensures the highest quality of life for the residents we serve.
Cohort: North Central
Funder: Partners for Health Foundation