Give back with Human Needs Food Pantry.
The Human Needs Food Pantry, located at 9 Label Street in Montclair, serves clients from approximately a dozen towns in Essex County that have no food pantries of their own. They also participate in a state food program and provide food to people in need from other areas of the county and state as well. The Human Needs Food Pantry has been in service for over 30 years, starting off in a Baptist Church in Montclair before moving to its Label Street location 10 years ago as an incorporated non-profit.
According to Mike Bruno, Executive Director of the Human Needs Food Pantry, the goal of the food pantry is to “fill the voids” that people in need deal with every single day. “We try to help them fight food insecurity, assist them with obtaining decent clothing and we provide free medical screening with the help of Mountainside Hospital,” said Bruno. “We also try to provide baby diapers, wipes, feminine products and even pet food when our funding allows for it.”
Bruno serves as the Executive Director of the pantry, running the day to day operations. According to Bruno, his responsibilities include ordering the meat, produce and groceries, completing the required reports and paperwork, hiring employees, overseeing the budget and more. “It’s no different from any other director’s position except that in my role I get to help people in need each and every day,” said Bruno. “It’s the most personally fulfilling job anyone could wish for.”
The pantry has a staff of six people, but is also assisted by over 150 volunteers. There are currently over 900 registered households eligible to receive food from the pantry, and more than 100 people come through the door each day for food. Food is also delivered to an additional 200 households every week because the recipients are homebound (handicapped, very elderly, people with severe medical problems who can’t get to our facility and more). All of this hard work is done by volunteers!
“Right now we have a huge number of volunteers, so we ask the community to get involved outside of the pantry by conducting food drives [or] raising awareness of food insecurity,” said Bruno. “If someone wants to volunteer at the pantry, they should go on our website at humanneedsfoodpantry.org and fill out a volunteer submission form. Then when we have an opening we will reach out to you to see if it’s a fit for you.”
There are a few things currently going on during the slow summer months. According to Bruno, the pantry is trying to increase awareness of their increased need for food and donations during the summer months, when donations slow down due to peoples’ busy summer schedules. Additionally, many of the clients are dealing with serious health issues like cancer and other illnesses which prevent them from eating properly. They require supplemental nutrition products like Ensure and Glucerna to obtain the necessary calories and nutrients which are very expensive to buy so the pantry tries to provide them at no cost.
The Human Needs Food Pantry has always had great support from the community, which they are extremely grateful for. “On behalf of our Board, my staff and our clients I want to simply say thank you to everyone in this community for your endless support of our mission,” said Bruno. “Your food donations, monetary gifts and volunteerism make what we do possible and we are grateful.”
You can help the pantry spread the word about hunger and their effort to end it by following the pantry on Facebook and Twitter, visiting their website and trying help them reach out to anyone that needs assistance. “Remember us this summer because hunger doesn’t go on vacation,” said Bruno. The Human Needs Food Pantry is located at 9 Label Street in Montclair, N.J. Visit them on the web at humanneedsfoodpantry.org or contact them by phone at 973-746-4669.