A proud member of the MEND network of food pantries
Our new mission statement
We recently revised our mission statement to more accurately reflect the focus of our pantry as we have grown. Our mission statement guides us as we consider programs and opportunities for the pantry. We hope you will agree that this is now who we are and what we strive to be:
We are an all-volunteer, supplemental food pantry  helping to meet essential human needs  of food-insecure residents of Orange and East Orange, NJ  with dignity and respect.
Same URL, Fabulous New Website! 
our new website
Have you seen our fabulous new  website ?

We're very grateful to Ethan Sterling, who redesigned it for us as a mitzvah project for his bar mitzvah. Very readable and easy to navigate, with lots of links to IFPO news, easy ways to donate or make tributes, and more. Check it out at orangesfoodpantry.org, and let us know if you have any suggestions. 
MEND changes their name
IFPO leaders with Sharon Reilly-Tobin of MEND at MEND gala
Sharon Reilly-Tobin of MEND (in red) with IFPO leaders Cyndy Wyatt, Peggy Baggaley, Shayna Schmidt and Diane Stein. 
The IFPO is one of 16 participating MEND pantries.  MEND historically was an acronym for Meeting Emergency Needs with Dignity. On March 2, MEND announced that t he MEND Board of Trustees had voted to change the name of MEND to  Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity.  The word "essential" replaced the word "emergency".  This is a more accurate description of the current work of the pantries and the needs of all our clients.  

IFPO receives benefits from MEND including communal sharing of information and advocacy, as well as bulk distributions of food, ShopRite gift cards to purchase produce and pantry basics, and the Summer Hunger Busters program. MEND just covered our UHaul costs from July, 2016 - February 2017 from a Healthy Pantries, Healthy Patrons grant. 

MEND is the oldest interfaith food network in Essex County. In 2016, MEND's pantries served over 107,000 individuals. 
An amazing donation from Edrington
Edrington donation 2017
We cannot find enough words to express our gratitude to Edrington, and to our supporter Marc Bromfield, Edrington's Director of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility, who arranged an incredible donation for the second time. A company with a historic pedigree, Edrington makes some of the world's best loved scotch whiskies, and has a portfolio offering distinctive premium spirit brands. Its unique ownership model has donated millions to improve the lives of those in Scotland; it now also donates internationally to good causes chosen and supported by Edrington employees in their own communities. 

So let's all tip a glass to this generous company, whose largesse will support our purchases from the Community FoodBank for 3 full months, allowing us to serve over 5,000 food-insecure individuals! 
What does it cost to provide food to a client? 

We recently were asked about what it costs to provide groceries to a family of four, and thought you would be interested in the answer. We calculated that providing a single "grab and go bag" to a client would cost, under the best circumstances, approximately $9.14. That bag of supplemental food would contain 17 items, including donated bread (but remember, we make 3 weekly trips to pick that up) and a fresh vegetable choice (again, a weekly trip to the Farmer's Market). If that single client went through our client choice stations, they would receive 3 additional items and it would cost us 
$9.41 at best.
We serve as many as 250 clients on a given week, so you can see why we are so appreciative to receive donations of (unopened and non-expired) non-perishables as well as produce.

Worldwide Orphans and the Toy Library are terrific! 

What would we do without the support of Worldwide Orphans? Every single pantry week, WWO bring their staff and interns and their Toy Library to us. The Library supports positive development outcomes for young children and prepares them to enter school, and gives our adult clients a chance to come together to learn about child development and engage in playful activities with their children. 

Our clients know their young children will be engaged while they wait to go through our client choice stations, and the children know they will have fun at IFPO! The photos below show a very busy Toy Library day, as our clients came to pantry when East Orange schools were on break!

Toy Library

Toy Library

Toy Library

An Amazing pre-Easter Day at IFPO

JAG physical therapy donated fish for Easter week
April 12 was a very busy and really fabulous day at IFPO. We were so fortunate during Passover week and just before Easter to be able to provide our 261 clients (representing over 760 individuals, including 313 children) with a particularly terrific bounty of goods. JAG Physical Therapy once again generously provided two pound bags of frozen fish for each client, and came to physically help out that moning. The fish was paired with lemons donated by TSTI's Young Families program. We chose to purchase Easter Boxes offered this year by The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, so clients received not only an extra bounty of food to use for the holiday (including mac and cheese, canned fruit, rice, green beans and carrots) but also fresh chicken, fresh sweet potatoes and a dozen eggs! 200 fun Easter baskets from the CFB contained candy and treats. Fresh carrots and potatoes offered as a vegetable choice were provided by Arturo's, and fresh bananas and apples were purchased with funds from a special MEND allocation.

Our 70 volunteers that day included not only our fantastic regular core crew but also the Millburn Millers baseball team (whose muscles were put to good use unloading two delivery trucks), as well as Seton Hall nursing students, special groups seen below, and children and their accompanying adults on school vacation. 
Peggy Baggaley talking to Pre-Easter volunteers

Pre-Easter volunteers

Millburn Millers unload a truck

Easter bounty

Clarity Rwefeactive Services team
Volunteers from Clarity Refractive Services brought us a large food donation, including fresh fruit, and stayed to work the day. 
Girl scouts and cookies!
Millburn's Girl Scout Troop 21281 brought 36 boxes of cookies and helped escort clients. 

Pre-Easter escorting at IFPO
Everyone's day is brightened when our escorts are kids! 
Pre-Easter at IFPO
Great escorts and a choice of Girl Scout cookies or chocolate lava cake at the client choice table! 
Owen Matthews 600 can challenge
A 600 Can Challenge! 
Inspired by her friends on the IFPO Teen Board, Owen Matthews and her family collected 600 cans (as well as diapers) from friends and neighbors for us. We were delighted to sort those non-perishables immediately for distribution on April 12 under our client choice system. 
Service Learning at IFPO inspires middle school students, 
and they inspire us! 

Maplewood Middle School at IFPO on 3.22
We are always delighted to have Ray Mantes, 6th grade Social Studies and Service Learning Teacher, and his Maplewood Middle School students spend time at Pantry. Their food pantry field trip always shows us how students can learn empathy and model kindness, lessons we hope they will take into their lives. Recently a group of 20 sixth graders enriched us all as they, with Ray's student teacher Caelynn Robinson, spent the morning with us escorting clients, handing out books, helping make grab and go bags and working at the choice tables.
Their reflections on their morning shows us how much they "got it". Here are a few of the incredible things they wrote:
----...It was great to see so many people helping and people in need of help happy....
----...I think that knowing that you impacted someone's day in a good way is what gives you the best feeling which is being happy and feeling appreciated.
-----...I never realized how big of an issue hunger [in New Jersey] is. Walking into a room filled with hundreds of hungry people that are in need of food made me realize that we all need to be grateful for the food that we have and to consider giving more to the people in need....
----...What I learned [about myself while at IFPO] is that I was not thinking or doing enough about a huge problem....It made me realize that donating food is only half of it. It made me learn that I don't have to give anything except my time to positively impact somebody....
----This experience made me think about food much differently. From now on I will try to enjoy my food more and not waste anything because there are people who would do anything to be food secure like I am. From now on, I will think about food as a gift or a lucky opportunity that I am fortunate to have and something I should share with people who don't have the same opportunity as me as often as I can.
This is Hunger: 
      Mazon exhibition highlights an American problem

IFPO leaders at This is Hunger exhibit
IFPO leaders recently visited "This is Hunger", an experiential installation on wheels. The 53 foot double-wide trailer has been outfitted to roll across the country for ten months, helping people understand who struggles with hunger in America* and hopefully engage in advocacy to end it. READ MORE HERE.
 We're working to offer clients healthier choices, nutrition      and educational information, and health services 

Our partner Summit Medical Group Foundation provides health screenings, including blood pressure readings, to 
our clients once a month. 
MG Foundation provides health screenings to our clients
Health screenings are provided to our clients by SMG Foundation.

Once the weather is a bit warmer, those screenings will take place in their new mobile van! It even has a retractable awning to protect clients from the sun.
SMG Foundation's new mobile van.

Inside the new van of SMG Foundation

We continue to look for ways to bring our clients increased amounts of fresh vegetables and fruit. Broccoli was a very big hit recently. Funds for produce are often provided by a grant from the Episcopal Diocese but the logistics of getting purchased produce to pantry remain daunting. Arturo's brings produce like carrots and onions when they also bring volunteers once a month, and Winston School eighth graders regularly bring us oranges. We're committed to having bananas as an additional and free option on the last pantry week of each month (our "diaper week", so we know this is a welcome choice for clients with young children). With warmer weather, we'll have CSA produce from Farm & Fork Society, including produce contributed from a campaign you can support run by Generation Zero . If you might be able to do a produce run for us on select Tuesdays and deliver to IFPO on Wednesday mornings, contact  dianehstein@aol.com.

Nutritionists from NJ SNAP- Ed provided our clients with a lesson about the amount of sugar in beverages recently. 

NJ SNAP - Ed does a lesson about sugar in beverages..

We've creating signs in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole advising our clients that rinsing and draining canned vegetables, beans and fruits before use will reduce their sugar and sodium (salt) content

We were delighted to be able to offer our clients farro and organic grains recently when these items became available at the Community FoodBank of NJ. Unfortunately, these healthier grains are not always available at CFB. We also can't get low salt or low sugar options there, so it's great when you donate those choices!  

 So many great things are happening at the IFPO! 

The recent Jewish holiday of Purim brought lots of nice donations for our clients. Pasta and mac  and cheese made great groggers (noisemakers) at the Purim  celebration at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel. Congregation B'nai Jeshurun made shalach manot bags
(known also as Purim baskets, these are gifts sent to family and friends) for our clients. 
Pasta and mac n cheese from TSTI's Purim celebration.

Gift bags for our clients from TBJ

The Junior League of Short Hills and the Oranges (JLOSH) had a  Kids 4 Kids event in March that taught kids about the importance of nutrition and giving food to the less fortunate. IFPO benefited with a carful of peanut butter and hearty soups.

JLOSH kids for kids event

We're delighted to be the beneficiary of the Wyoming Presbyterian Church in Millburn's  "Magnet for Mission" program; the donated peanut butter, jelly and soups are terrific pantry staples.

donated soups and PB and J from Wyoming Presbyterian Church in Millburn

Natasha Cooper-Benitsky delivered food to IFPO from the Purim to Pesach Food Drive done by Golda Och Academy. We always welcome donations of unexpired and unopened non-perishable food. 
Natasha Benitsky of Kol Rina delivers food to IFPO

When Nicole Bell volunteered at pantry recently, she was struck by how clients seemed to appreciate the few children's books we had to distribute. She canvased her friends for donations, resulting in boxes of books for our clients. Our clients were thrilled to be able to take home books to their children. We are always delighted when we are able to increase opportunities for reading among our clients' children. Studies confirm that the number of books in the home directly predicts reading achievement; children who grow up with books in their homes, something often lacking in poor households, reach a higher level of education than those who do not.  
clients love to choose books for their kids!

donated books distributed to clients

Speaking of healthy choices: IFPO Partner Anne Sussman of Mindfulness Meeting Place brought a hardworking crew of health and wellness professionals from RISE to IFPO recently.   
RISE wellness professionals at IFPO.

We have been so lucky to have a van from Maplecrest Moves Charities to help us with pickups at the Community FoodBank and elsewhere. Click here for a great feature story about Maplecrest Moves Charities. 

Maplecrest Moves Charities van with Investors Bank volunteers

Maplecrest Moves Charities

An overheard conversation about IFPO at Cedar Ridge Cafe connected us with Aimee Holtzman, founder of RockCANRoll. RCR is a hunger relief organization that collaborates with rock concerts to collect healthy food to distribute to those in need. We received six cartons of food recently donated to the Fest for Beatles Fans in Jersey City. And our clients are enjoying "pour and bake" chocolate lava cakes from a RockCanRoll partner. If you'd like to help out at NJ rock event collections this spring and summer and support IFPO, email  aimee@rockCANroll.org
RockCanRoll collection for IFPO at Beatle Fest
Delivery from RockCanRoll

Aimee Holtzman at Fest for Beatles Fans
Aimee Holtzman, founder of RockCanRoll. 

Our Teen Board gathered for a recent planning meeting. Watch for news of their spring event soon, and be prepared to learn about gleaning this fall!

Teen Board 2017

We're very grateful for the large collection of food donated to us as a result of a drive by the Millburn Millers softball team.
Food collection from TSTI softball team

Kindness starts early: Christ Church Cub Scout Troop Pack 1 came to food pantry on a Sunday and worked hard to put away the results of their food drive. 
Christ Churck cub scout pack 1

  IFPO teams pack meals for others at End Hunger 3.6

Two teams from the IFPO participated in an event on Saturday, March 25 to combat hunger in New Jersey. The Madison Rotary Club conducted a one-day affair at Drew University that packaged 130,000 non-perishable meals which will be distributed to MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity), the network of Essex County pantries to which IFPO belongs, as well as to three other organizations.  

Our group had Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus working side by side, embodying our interfaith creed as we do every week. We're so happy that this weekend event gave families the chance to participate together.

Peggy Baggaley, Sharon Tobin-Reilly of MEND, and Diane Stein at End Hunger
Peggy Baggaley and Diane Stein of IFPO with Sharon Reilly-Tobin of MEND

After the event ended we were given 20 cases of food - 5 each of rice/beans, mac/cheese, pesto pasta, and oatmeal raisin cereal.  
Family volunteers at End Hunger 3.6
Our volunteers at End Hunger 3.6
Eng Hunger 3.6 volunteers

Volunteers at End Hunger 3.6
The name End Hunger 3.6 refers to the fact that every 3.6 seconds someone in the world dies of starvation.  In New Jersey, over one million people are living below the poverty line, while one in five New Jersey children is hungry and relies on food stamps for meals. 
Mac and Cheese was one of 4 meals distributed  to clients.

Cute pictures from our pantry days
Elliot Sommer, our bag man
Shout out to a hardworking super volunteer: In addition to picking up produce for us almost every pantry week, Elliot Sommer is our "bag man", making double bags and distributing them so clients can go through our client choice pantry. And he also administers the Susan Sommer Fund for Social Justice, which helps support our Diaper Program and other IFPO programs. 

Diaper client
Sometimes our diaper parents need a helping hand for a few minutes, and our volunteer Caren Ravitz was thrilled to hold this adorable baby girl so her Mom could get organized. We served 145 babies at our 3/29 pantry.

Diaper Dad
We are delighted to see Diaper Dads at Pantry, especially when the diaper baby is this cute! We distributed 27 handmade baby blankets courtesy of Project Linus, toiletry bags supplied by TSTI, and 70 cases of baby food and formula we procured at no cost from the Community FoodBank.
Interfaith Food Pantry 
of the Oranges