MEND to honor community partners at gala

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — MEND, a nonprofit working to alleviate hunger in Essex County, is hosting a celebratory dinner on Thursday, March 8, at The Woodland in Maplewood. In addition to raising funds and awareness, the gala will honor two community partners that have supported MEND as it works to serve its more than 140,000 food-insecure patrons.

At the fourth annual event, MEND will bestow its inaugural Community Partner Award to both the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills and the New Jersey Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“We are excited to recognize these two terrific organizations for their generous and ongoing support of our programs,” Robin Peacock, MEND’s newly named executive director, said.

JLOSH assisted MEND in converting a donated school bus into a mobile food pantry — known as “the Green Bean” — that will be used to distribute fresh and healthy food to those in need. The NJ Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has provided guidance, including cooking demonstrations, as MEND seeks to fulfill its goal of increasing the quantity and quality of nutritious food it offers its patrons.

The gala, which will run from 7 to 10 p.m., will include an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, a buffet dinner, music by Jimmy Buttros, a mini auction and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are available for purchase now on the MEND website

The funds raised at the gala will help MEND continue to strengthen the 17 food pantries in its network, which are located in Newark, Bloomfield, East Orange, Irvington, Maplewood, Montclair, Orange, South Orange and West Orange.