MONTVILLE, NJ – A labor of love, Deane Driscoll has been running the Kiwanis Food Pantry for seven years and has served countless families.
Never seeming to run out of energy, he receives donations at the Passaic Valley Road house where the pantry is located, takes phone calls from donors and patrons, and shops for cases of items the pantry keeps on stock regularly.
Recently the Montville Township High School Key Club, a junior offshoot of the Montville Kiwanis Club, conducted a food drive at the school, and he and club members sorted the donations into bags to make Thanksgiving dinners for more than 30 families.
“It was a wonderful thing to see these young adults all pitching in,” he said.
He’s obviously proud of the pantry – its clean facility and its contents.
“You’ll hardly ever find that I don’t have what you want,” he said. “This has been my best year.”
Driscoll said that when the school year starts, people’s thoughts turn more to the pantry and that’s a good thing, because that’s when need increases.
“The highest demand is in fall and winter because the agriculture jobs start to end and families earn less,” he said. “People hear about, and conduct food drives in the houses of worship and schools, or in the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, and we get donations.”
Driscoll said that while patrons do have to register, he doesn’t ask a lot of questions.
“If they live out of town, I won’t send them away this time, but I send them to the nearest food pantry in their own town for the next time,” he said. “My clients are here in Montville Township.”
The pantry is currently running a turkey drive for the holidays. Driscoll is driving around town picking up turkeys from the three collection sites – Lincoln 1st Bank, Stonybrook Realty and right at the food pantry – and stores the turkeys at area restaurants who have been kind enough to donate freezer space. (Read more about the turkey drive here.)
But he could use some help. He drives to Aldi in Rockaway regularly to buy cases of the staples the food pantry gives out, such as peanut butter (crunchy and plain) and puffed rice cereal. He does this with monetary donations from local businesses. He regularly comes to the pantry to sort food, wash the shelves, and dust the stock.
“I don’t dust the top of my own refrigerator, but I do that here,” he said with a laugh.
Volunteers are also needed to staff the food pantry.
While all non-perishable food donations are always welcome, the following are especially needed, he said. Please check the dates on the items before donating: apple juice, corned beef hash, Progresso and hearty-type soups, canned tuna or chicken, and ShopRite dry milk in packets.
The Montville Kiwanis Food Pantry is located at 91 Passaic Valley Road, Montville. It is open Thursdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deane Driscoll can be reached at 973-216-7649 if you or your group would like to volunteer.