By: Lindsey Kelleher
There’s a new way to put food on the table for people who are struggling.
The Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove has just about all your non-perishable needs.
Township resident Lisa Conforti and the Rev. Sarah Welch-Pomerantz from Cedar Grove Community Church spearheaded the idea in Cedar Grove after seeing Free Little Pantries pop up in other nearby communities.
Welch-Pomerantz said people need food now more than ever before due to pandemic-related job losses and other woes from the shattered economy.
“With the pandemic on the rise, there was an increase in food insecurities,” Welch-Pomerantz said. “I’ve received more requests for food cards like for ACME, Shop Rite, etc. during the past year than I have in my whole pastorship before the pandemic.”
The Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove was designed as a quick and discrete way to help those with food insecurities. Its setup is like that of a Free Little Library because anyone can donate food to or take food from the pantry, which is a wooden box located at Cedar Grove Community Church.
Residents and non-residents of Cedar Grove can give or take food at any hour, which makes it different from a traditional food pantry which usually has set pick-up or drop-off hours.
“Some people are too embarrassed or feel badly about their situation and don’t want people to know about their struggle so they can go at night,” said Conforti. “You don’t know who is putting food in or taking food out.”
Volunteers visit the box every day to make sure it is stocked and properly cared for, Conforti said.
The Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove is part of the Little Free Pantry movement to raise awareness about food insecurities. The movement started in 2016 in Fayetteville, Ark. when Jessica McClard planted a wooden box on a post that contained food, personal care and paper items, according to the website littlefreepantry.org.
Anyone was welcome to give or take the items. The movement has grown ever since then.
Some other New Jersey municipalities that have Little Free Pantries include Montclair, East Orange, Princeton, New Brunswick and Manahawkin. A complete list of Little Free Pantries in New Jersey may be found on the Little Free Pantry’s website, littlefreepantry.org.
The Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove
Location: Cedar Grove Community Church
65 Bowden Road
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009
How to get involved:
Bring or take non-perishable items such as but not limited to oatmeal, canned soups, canned vegetables, boxes of pasta, etc. Food is placed in or taken from the white wooden box on the church’s property.
Hours of operation:
Sunday through Saturday, 24 hours a day.
Who to contact:
To learn more about the Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove, email township resident Lisa Conforti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Cedar Grove Township website, cedargrovenj.org. Then go to https://cedargrovenj.org/2021/03/02/the-free-little-pantry-of-cedar-grove/.
Like the Free Little Pantry of Cedar Grove’s Facebook page, CG Free Little Pantry