Food pantries in Jefferson Township and surrounding areas see a decline in donations during the first few months of the year, leading to bare shelves and shrinking allotments. Stocked mainly through donations and drives, the food pantries require a great community effort and dedicated volunteers to serve those in need.

Jefferson Township Food Pantries

Jefferson Township Municipal Food Bank is maintained in the municipal building (1033 Weldon Road, Lake Hopatcong). Residents in need may check in with the receptionist in the main lobby during regular business hours: Monday through Thursday 9:00-4:30 and Friday 8:00-3:30. Donations to the municipal food bank are welcome.

New Hope Food Pantry was established in 1999 by a group of parishioners at Milton United Methodist Church (316 Dover-Milton Road, Oak Ridge). Supplies are offered to more than a hundred families, about 90% of whom are Jefferson residents, on the first Thursday and third Saturday of each month from 9:30-11:00.

Milton United Methodist Church sign. (Photo courtesy of Carol Robbins)

Coordinator Carol Robbins credits community collaboration as the organization’s sustaining factor. Other local churches – such as St. Gabriel’s Episcopal, Lower Berkshire Valley Presbyterian, and St. Thomas Catholic – support the pantry by volunteering and donating. Food and supplies are also collected by Cub Scouts in pack 49, the American Legion in Oak Ridge, DECA (a career and technical student organization), the Junior Woman’s Club, The Fairways community, White Rock Elementary School, and a couponing group based in Sparta.

A glimpse of the New Hope Food Pantry. (Photo courtesy of Carol Robbins)

Non-perishable donations include both food and household items. Current needs are for pasta, sauce, toilet paper, and feminine hygiene products. Pet food is also welcome so that animal companions do not suffer during times of hardship. Non-perishable contributions can be placed in the red bin on the side of the church or be delivered to the post office, Harmony Salon, and Gibraltar Bank on Berkshire Valley Road.

Photo courtesy of Carol Robbins

The Acme in Oak Ridge donates perishable food. To schedule a drop-off or arrange a pick-up of additional perishable items, or to access services, call the church office at 973-697-3194.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Food Pantry, located in the back of the church rectory (237 Espanong Road, Lake Hopatcong), serves up to 40 families a month. Residents of Jefferson and the surrounding lake community may call to schedule an appointment; photo identification showing proof of residency is required. The pantry is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30-12:00 and 1:30-3:30. Families and individuals may choose the items they need and prefer.

The food pantry is located in the back of the church rectory, pictured. (Courtesy photo)

Dedicated volunteer Toni Tarighi coordinates the pantry and keeps things organized.

Toni Tarighi, Our Lady Star of the Sea Food Pantry coordinator, holds up pet toys that were recently donated. The food pantry also welcomes pet food donations. (Courtesy photo)

She told The Chronicle that the generosity of the congregation is a mainstay of the pantry, including members who make monthly donations. Support is also provided by local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Woman’s Club; food drives are hosted by the Jefferson Child Care and Education Center, Little Learners, and Ellen T. Briggs Elementary School. Pet food and pet toys are accepted as well. During the holiday season, the Star of the Sea food pantry works with Hurdtown United Methodist Church to prepare and distribute baskets.

Current needs include juice in jars and boxes (preferably 100% fruit, especially apple), boxed food, cereal, oatmeal, canned pasta, and toilet paper. Donations may be placed in bins inside the church’s side entrances daily from 9:00-4:00 (204 Espanong Road, Lake Hopatcong). To drop off perishable items or make an appointment for services, contact Patricia Connolly at 973-663-0211 or olsos@optonline.net.

Our Lady Star of the Sea donation bin is located inside the church’s side entrance. (Courtesy photo)

Hurdtown United Methodist Church (823 State Route 15 South, Lake Hopatcong) has provided food for 25 years. Those who need assistance can call the church office to arrange a day and time for pick-up. There are currently no set hours for the food pantry.

To donate to Hurdtown United Methodist Church’s food pantry, call 973-663-1216. (Courtesy photo)

In addition to serving people on an as-needed basis, the church distributes annual Christmas baskets, complete with a ham and a turkey. Donations and help for baskets have been provided by Donagels Bagels and Donut Café, Black Bear Fitness, Vinny & Son Pizza and Restaurant, Zelda Zonk Hair Salon, Lake Hopatcong Post Office, and the Jefferson Township Police Department.

To seek services or donate supplies, contact the church office at 973-663-1216 or hurdtownumc@verizon.net.

Neighboring Food Banks

St. Joseph Cares Food Pantry has been in operation since 1985 a few miles outside Jefferson, sponsored by St. Joseph Church (454 Germantown Road, West Milford). The pantry is open on Saturdays from 10:00-1:00, and currently serves 35 families with more than 100 bags of groceries each weekend.

St. Joseph Cares Food Pantry. (Courtesy photo)

Donations may be dropped off any time at Koch Hall next to the church. Financial contributions can be delivered to the parish office. In addition, the church participates in a gift card program with Stop and Shop, ShopRite, and Kohl’s, receiving a percentage of card sales. They are available for purchase at the office from 9:00-5:00 Monday to Thursday and 9:00-12:00 on Fridays. For more information, call 973-697-6100.

Crossroads Community Food Pantry, sponsored by Holy Faith Lutheran Church (104 Paradise Road, Oak Ridge), serves about 40 families a month. It is open Tuesday through Friday weekly as well as second and fourth Saturdays monthly from 10:00-1:00. Visitors fill out a short form with general information and check their needs on a list of available items; a volunteer fills the bags.

High-need items include coffee, laundry detergent, and canned or fresh protein. The pantry also accepts pet food, monetary donations, and gift cards for ShopRite, Stop and Shop, and Acme. Perishables can be dropped off during the pantry’s open hours. In addition to individual contributions, the pantry receives weekly supplements through the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. For a list of suggested donations, visit https://holyfaith.org/food-pantry. To seek services or donate supplies, contact the church office at 973-697-6060 or holyfaith@verizon.net.

The church and pantry also partner with the United Methodist Church at Newfoundland on a program called Backpack Bites to serve needy children at Paradise Knoll Elementary School. Every Friday, the kids receive backpacks containing a meal and snacks for the weekend. The backpacks are returned to school on Monday.

More Help for Morris County Residents

Interfaith Food Pantry and Resource Center serves eligible Morris County residents following a required in-person interview. The pantry was founded in 1994 by parishioners from local houses of worship to address the growing issue of hunger by consolidating their food assistance programs. Like most food banks, Interfaith relies on donations from individuals and families, religious groups, businesses, schools, community service programs, and other organizations. The pantry currently distributes more than 15,000 pounds of food to 325 families each week.

In addition, a variety of programs and resources help those who are struggling to meet their needs and become self-sufficient. Clients are provided with screening for diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis. Nutrition workshops and counseling are offered along with instruction on how to prepare food in a healthy manner.

Interviews take place at 2 Executive Drive, Morris Plains or 190 Speedwell Avenue,

Morristown. For an appointment or emergency assistance in English or Spanish, call 973-538-8049 x210. For additional information, including a complete list of donation needs, visit http://mcifp.org or email interfaithfoodpantry@mcifp.org.

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