ROXBURY, NJ - New partnerships with local social services organizations throughout Morris County, including the Roxbury Social Services Food Pantry, have prompted the Interfaith Food Pantry to modify its name: It's now The Interfaith Food Pantry Network (IFPN).

The IFPN said the name change "reflects the organization's network of support operations and partnerships throughout the region."

In addition to the Roxbury site, the food-for-the-needy distribution network includes sites in Butler, Lincoln Park, Rockaway, Jefferson, Netcong, Mt. Olive, Wharton, Dover, Randolph, Parsippany, Hanover, Morristown and Madison. 

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“The new name is a more accurate reflection of who we are and what we do," said IFPN President Tim Lockwood. "We are not a just a food pantry and resource center. We are a network of pantries and partner agencies that comprise a vast safety net for Morris County residents that struggle with food insecurity.”

The network partners are small food pantries, like Roxbury's, low income senior housing sites and food access sites operated by the County of Morris, said the IFPN.

 IFPN officials said the strategy to establish a network of food pantries and satellite food distribution sites via their Mobile Pantry Partners began in 2017. "The goal of the network is to efficiently address the social detriments of health by providing access to nutritious foods to clients of smaller pantries in more remote communities, and seniors who lack access to the IFPN pantries in Parsippany and Morristown," said the organization.

The Roxbury partnership, along with partnerships in Dover and Hanover, took place earlier this year as the COVID-19 crisis began impacting Morris County, said the IFPN.

"Contributing to the rapid expansion of the network was the exponential increase in the number of seniors who, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, were suddenly isolated and had no way of securing groceries," it said.

Roxbury Social Services Assistant Director Eva Scartozzi said the partnership has been beneficial to the Roxbury Food Pantry.

"It's been very helpful," she said. "It's been a great thing. They provide us with fresh produce - fruits and vegetables - and that's been a very big help.

Scartozzi said the IFPN deliveries come once monthly, usually on Wednesday.

Although the produce deliveries have been a big help for the Roxbury Food Pantry, Roxbury Social Services remains in dire need of help from the public, said director Janet Wald. "Right now, we need gas cards, Walmart cards, Shoprite cards, gift cards," she said.

Addressing the public on Tuesday, Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo spoke about Roxbury Social Services' work.

"Please remember the less fortunate among us," he said. "This is the busy time of the year for our Social Services Department. Each year they provide many of our families with much appreciated holiday meals.  They cannot do this without your help."

DeFillippo said the Roxbury Food Pantry is asking for donations of frozen hams and frozen lasagna.

"Roxbury has a long history of helping those who need help in the community," he said. "We know you will continue that tradition – especially this year when so many of us need help."

“We believe it’s critical to not just employ stop-gap measures to hunger," said the IFPN's Lockwood. "The long-term effects of food insecurity often lead to health issues such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The network addresses this issue by providing more fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy items and grains. Access to healthy foods empower people to take more control over the issues they are dealing with – finding a job, managing financial stressors and providing kids the nutrition they need to do well in school.”

IFPN Executive Director Carolyn Lake said network partners like Roxbury's "have strong ties to their clients and communities" and "understand their needs.” She said the COVID crisis "forced many new people to seek help everywhere they could find it."

Contributing to the rapid expansion of the network was the "exponential increase in the number of seniors who, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, were suddenly isolated and had no way of securing groceries," said the IFPN.

It said the program accommodates 6,100 household visits, a 140 percent increase over 2019’s figures. 

“The Interfaith Food Pantry Network is a critical resource for Morris County” said DeFillippo's wife, Morris County Freeholder Kathy DiFillippo. “Even pre-COVID, there was a significant population living paycheck to paycheck and many seniors choosing between food and medicine. Food insecurity is not new, but the pandemic exacerbated the problem. We are grateful to the IFPN and the significant safety net they provide to help Morris County families.” 

Although the produce deliveries have been a big help for the Roxbury Food Pantry, Roxbury Social Services remains in dire need help from the public, said director Janet Wald. "Right now, we need gas cards, Walmart cards, Shoprite cards, gift cards," she said.

Addressing the public on Tuesday, Mayor DeFillippo spoke about Roxbury Social Services' needs.

"Please remember the less fortunate among us," he said. "This is the busy time of the year for our Social Services Department. Each year they provide many of our families with much appreciated holiday meals.  They cannot do this without your help."

DeFillippo said the Roxbury Food Pantry is asking for donations of frozen hams and frozen lasagna.

"Roxbury has a long history of helping those who need help in the community," he said. "We know you will continue that tradition – especially this year when so many of us need help."

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