HOBOKEN, NJ - The Hoboken Food Pantry (HFP) celebrated its one-year anniversary of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, as Hoboken Community Center (HCC) residents, public workers, and volunteers joined together to thank all those who have helped serve the community during this time of need.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, approximately 1 in 9 Hoboken residents live below the poverty level. The HFP has seen a sharp rise in the numbers of individuals and families struggling with food insecurity during this public health and economic crisis. 

“For over a year, the Hoboken Food Pantry has served as a lifeline for our community members impacted by the pandemic,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “I’m incredibly proud of all of the hardworking volunteers who have given hundreds of hours of their time to assist our residents with food insecurity and in need of critical resources. The Hoboken Food Pantry is here to stay, and we as a City are glad to support them as they continue to serve Hoboken. On behalf of our Mile Square – thank you to everyone involved for all you do for our City.”

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The HFP was opened in December 2019 by the Hoboken Community Center to address food insecurity among the 96 low-income tenants in the HCC’s Single Room Occupancy facility. Soon after launching HFP began to provide food through the Hoboken Housing Authority. That mission evolved rapidly as the pandemic impacted our area.

“When the Pantry started a little over one year ago, we were operating out of a closet-sized room in the Hoboken Community Center to feed about 35 individuals,” said Ken Nilsen, Hoboken Community Center Board President. “Now, thanks to more than 1,200 amazing partners and donors and 220 volunteers who worked 1,750 hours, we’ve grown into a larger space and dramatically expanded our operations to include biweekly distributions that have provided 11,615 bags of food to 1,280 households.

With the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Hoboken was announced on March 13, 2020 with a statewide lockdown announced soon after, the HFP quickly scaled up its operation. A partnership was formed with the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Office of Emergency Management, the Hoboken Departments of Health and Environmental Services, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to coordinate the collection and distribution of thousands of pounds of food each week. Twelve days later, an emergency food resource center opened in the HCC with deliveries to residents in need.

"This could not have happened without the indefatigable Toni Tomarazzo who on day one of the pandemic reached out to a few of us and said 'we need to make sure people have food.," said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. "One year later, I am so proud of all who have made the Hoboken Food Pantry the amazing resource it has become for our community."

As the pandemic wore on, HFP volunteers created and now run a robust operation that distributes grab-and-go bags of groceries on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at three Hoboken locations: the HFP at 1301 Washington Street, the Multi-Service Center at 124 Grand Street and the Jubilee Center at 601 Jackson Street. Clients also have the opportunity to “shop” for non-food items, such as diapers, toiletries and cleaning products twice per month at the HFP during Family 2 Family hours. 

To learn more about the HFP, including how to donate or shop the Amazon Wish List, visit hobokencc.org

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