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Hunger Free serving Hudson County

The mobile food pantry is spreading the wealth

Hunger Free volunteers

Recently, Hunger Free Bayonne, founded in 2016 to provide fresh produce, spices, and canned goods to residents, has expanded to become Hunger Free Unity in the Community. (HFUC)

The food pantry, started by Stephanie Glover-Wilson, distributed food on Saturdays in 16th Street Park to approximately 500 families.

Due to a need caused by COVID-19, the pantry’s now gone mobile, distributing food Saturdays in various Hudson County locales, serving more than 700 families each week.

The Bayonne City Council operates food distributions in Bayonne every Saturday when the mobile food pantry is out of town.

Casandra White and Dorothy Lansang of HFUC told the Bayonne Community News that the expansion came after a large influx of donations.

“We figured, why not spread it to all the towns within the county that are in need?” said Lansang, HFUC’s Logistics Officer.

White, HFUC’s Correspondent Secretary, said mayors invited the pantry to distribute food in their towns, citing a lack of resources. HFUC has been invited to almost every county municipality.

“People are not working, and people still need to feed their families,” White said.

Residents now have access to fresh produce, fruits, and juices.

Occasionally, the pantry distributes food to elderly residents, according to Lansang. On any given day, ten to 50 boxes of food are delivered to elderly residents.

Some towns have designated lines for seniors.

Open wallets, open hearts

The organization is 100-percent charity-based. Volunteers use their own equipment and cars.

Volunteers commit anywhere from four to six hours every Saturday.  “Rain, sleet, or snow, we’re out there,” White said.

White recalled volunteers holding down the tent in an intense storm.

Lansang said hundreds of families wait in line, with umbrellas, coats, and scarves.

The organization distributes winter clothing such as gloves, hats, socks, and scarves. Since the start of COVID-19, masks an hand sanitizer were added. Social distancing is observed.

If there is excess food, the pantry brings the leftovers to Bayonne and donates them to Grace Lutheran Church or St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church.

Growing their family

“It’s thank you, it’s tears, it’s happiness, the kids are happy,” White said. “We’re doing God’s work, we’re just his instruments. … It’s a win-win for all, and we’re just grateful to be a part of it.”

“They’re like family to us,” Lansang said. “I have been doing this for three years now, and I know them by name. I know their kids. They’ll come up and give us a hug sometimes. We ask how they’re doing in school.”

Hunger Free Unity is working on making a schedule of days, times, and locations for food distribution. Residents should check the food pantry’s social media pages, where it posts the locations on Friday.

The ultimate goal is to acquire a brick-and-mortar location.

For more information or to donate, email njhungerfree@gmail.com.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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