Community FoodBank of New Jersey plays key role in UCC food pantry expansion

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NEWARK, NJ — United Community Corporation expanded its food pantry to Newark’s East Ward in May when it held its grand opening at 106 Ann St., Wolff Memorial Presbyterian Church. The food pantry expansion was made possible through the Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s Network Investment Initiative grant, made possible with lead funding from the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and its partners.

“We are delighted to partner with United Community Corporation and thrilled to have played an essential role in their food pantry expansion,” CBFNJ President and CEO Carlos Rodriguez said. “CFBNJ’s more than 1,000 community partners are the boots on the ground in the fight against hunger, and our Network Investment Initiative is a vital part of a multiyear plan to ensure our shared future.”

As a partner and grantee with CFBNJ, United Community Corporation was able to purchase key equipment such as freezers and refrigerators to store food properly onsite. UCC also installed a commercial oven, which will provide hot meals to guests at UCC’s Fulton Street emergency shelter, residents at the NWK Hope Village shipping container shelter and community members.

“I don’t think we would be here without the Community FoodBank of New Jersey,” UCC food and clothing pantry manager Maria Torres said. “They are the real heroes because they do a lot and provide so many resources to many agencies like UCC.”

In addition to the distribution of both cooked and uncooked meals, UCC’s Ann Street pantry also provides free clothing. Torres set up the clothing pantry like a boutique to make clients feel as comfortable as possible while they’re shopping. The only difference between Torres’ boutique and clothing stores is that everything at Torres’ shop is free. The boutique offers a wide array of items besides clothing, including diapers, baby formula, backpacks, purses, books, mugs and other household items. 

UCC operates both of its food pantries at specific hours. The Champion House pantry at 933 South 18th St. in Newark is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Ann Street pantry at 106 Ann St. in Newark operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; appointments can be made for the Ann Street clothing boutique. 

UCC also has a designated day each month to distribute fresh produce. Champion House’s fresh produce distribution is every third Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Ann Street’s fresh produce distribution is every fourth Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Donations to UCC’s food pantry or clothing closet can be made by contacting donations@uccnewark.org or 973-642-0181 to schedule a time to drop off your donation or have it picked up.

“The war on homelessness, the war on poverty and the war on hunger all need soldiers to fight against the heavy headwinds of systematic opposition,” UCC Executive Director Craig Mainor said. “Whether the opposition is environmental, accidental or by design, the war is real. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey and United Community Corporation are linked by the desire to resolve the problems that plague the poor in this area. We are both working towards ending the concerns that create so much stress on our families and individuals.”

Photos Courtesy of Richard Greco

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