Beacon UU Congregation launches program to address food insecurity

SUMMIT — Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, a liberal faith community in Summit, has launched Neighborhood Beacon, an initiative aimed at alleviating food insecurity for area families and supporting local businesses.

Drawing on financial contributions from Beacon members, Neighborhood Beacon purchases gift cards from local restaurants and food purveyors, then partners with social services organizations to distribute the cards to food-insecure residents. The initiative rolled out in Summit in partnership with GRACE food pantry.

So far, the project has raised $3,000 to buy gift cards, and has been expanded to Maplewood, South Orange, Long Hill, Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Westfield. Other beneficiaries include families whose children attend Chancellor Avenue School in Irvington, which has a 15-year partnership with Beacon.

While the initiative was created in response to the COVID-19 crisis, fighting food insecurity has long been a focus for the Beacon, as some 13 percent of families and individuals in New Jersey are food insecure.

Fighting hunger goes to the core of Beacon’s mission to feed the human spirit and heal the world, according to the Rev. Robin Tanner, Beacon’s co-minister. 

“This pandemic is a magnifier,” Tanner said. “It has intensified the inequities in our community, but it also can magnify our deepest values including compassion, solidarity and ultimately universal love.”

Interested donors can contribute to this important fund via PayPal at