NEWARK, NJ — The Provident Bank Foundation is helping United Community Corp. in its mission to combat hunger across Newark by awarding the agency a $20,000 grant award dedicated to its food distribution program.
UCC’s food distribution program is a year-round program that reaches more than 100,000 food-insecure community members per year, providing low-income, predominately African American and Latino residents with staple groceries as the city of Newark and Essex County continue to recover from many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The program’s services are primarily focused in Newark, with multiple outreach components that include food distribution via food pantries, community refrigerators, a new mobile food truck that visits community sites and nutrition workshops.
“The pandemic significantly exacerbated food insecurity over the past two and a half years, especially in low-income communities, and the rising cost of food due to inflation is making it harder for people who are already struggling to put food on the table,” Provident Bank Foundation Executive Director Samantha Plotino said. “UCC’s approach to tackling hunger by meeting people where they are and serving each person with dignity and respect made supporting the food distribution program with a $20,000 grant an easy decision for PBF’s board of directors. Thanks to UCC, thousands of community members don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.”
“The funds from the Provident Bank Foundation will support our emergency food pantry and other feeding programs,” UCC Executive Director Craig Mainor said. “It is always a pleasure to have community stakeholders involved and participating in the fight against poverty. Each dollar received will support initiatives addressing food insecurity and increase access to nutritional meals for the community.”
Mainor noted that the funds will allow UCC to support its mobile feeding program by purchasing food-related items, materials and supplies. These items and resources, Mainor said, will also aid the “UCC Cafe,” a mobile food truck that launched early this year to distribute homemade, nutritious and hot meals for homeless guests at the Fulton Street and Hope Village shelters in Newark.
“It’s a good opportunity to feed more people and reach more communities to address hunger,” UCC mobile food program coordinator Cathy Ibarrondo said.
Earlier this year, UCC launched a community refrigerator program in public areas of high-need neighborhoods to increase access to food. UCC hosts four community refrigerators in outdoor locations, where residents may leave or take nonperishable and perishable food at no cost.