DENVILLE, NJ-- For well over 20 years, Denville’s Social Services Department has been running a food pantry for local families in need. Not only are they working to make sure no one in town goes hungry, employees and volunteers are also hoping to address any misconceptions that people might have about the food pantry.
The food pantry serves approximately 60 to 70 families, as well as 20 senior citizens, on a regular basis. To become a member of the food pantry, Denville residents must show proof that they are in financial need. One of the biggest misconceptions, according to social services coordinator Deirdre Rock, is that the people using the food pantry aren’t working and are just lazy.
“I think people expect that these are handouts or that the people using the food pantry aren’t working but most people are working two or more jobs but are still in need on a daily basis,” Rock said. “Kids from these families go to school with everyone else’s kids and people might not even know that they struggle to send the kids to school with lunch and a snack.”
The food pantry is consistently stocked with canned foods but struggles to get other donations that food stamps don’t cover. Personal hygiene products such as toothpaste and shampoo are constantly needed due to the lack of food stamp coverage.
Around the winter holidays the food pantry sees a surge in donations because the idea of helping others is on the minds of many in town. Summertime presents issues for the food pantry when so many other things are going on that people might forget to help their neighbors in need.
“Summer is tough with people going away on vacation or going to graduation parties. It’s also too hot to stand outside a supermarket to collect items so it can get pretty scarce during this time,” Rock said.
While Rock and others that volunteer at the food pantry donate plenty of time to help the community, the food pantry wouldn’t be able to exist without the generosity of local residents.
“I cannot convey enough that the food is totally from the generosity of people in town and I don’t get any additional funding,” Rock said. “I think it’s amazing that people anonymously donate food without expecting to get any reward for their good deed.”
Rock also shared the story of a man that donates to the food pantry every month and yet Rock still doesn’t even know the man’s name because he refuses to seek admiration for his donations.
The food pantry, located in the town hall building, is currently asking for donations to restock the pantry so that no Denville residents go hungry during the summer months.