PLAINFIELD, NJ — As New Jersey is making strides to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and to begin the return to a sense of normalcy, the Star Fish Food Pantry in Plainfield is ready to resume operations and help feed the hungry as it has for over forty-six years.

The food pantry has been providing food to the hungry in Plainfield since the early 1970’s. Formed through a coalition of religious leaders and concerned residents, Star Fish, Inc. was formed as a source of aid for those in need.

Operating out of residents’ homes at first, volunteers collected food donations from area churches and synagogues and then responded to calls from hungry families in Plainfield. Grocery bags were filled with food staples and delivered to those in need. Star Fish volunteers and supporters focused on its mission of providing food to the hungry.

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Housed in the Covenant United Methodist Church, pantry volunteers pack food two days a week and deliver it to local social service agencies, such as Plainfield Action Services, HomeFirst, and others. Basic food items are bagged in brown grocery bags that are inserted into compostable plastic shopping bags for added strength and for ease of carrying.

“We encourage anyone in need of emergency food to contact Plainfield Action Services at 908-753-3519,” said Marie Pase, director for Star Fish. “The staff at PAS prepares a list of families in need which we take over the telephone. Our workers then package up food orders and deliver them to PAS, where the clients go to pick up their food.”

All of what have become “normal” safety precautions are taken during the process. Workers at the Pantry wear masks, stay as socially-distant as possible, and use hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. The food bags, labeled for each client, are dropped off outside of the PAS offices, minimizing contact between delivery driver and PAS staff.

During the period from mid-March until this week, the Pantry was closed to normal operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That did not stop the dedicated volunteers, however. Joining with the Rotary Club of the Plainfields, the Plainfield YMCA, and the DuCret School of Art, Star Fish participated in the Plainfield Food Security Project, a weekly food distribution effort out of the DuCret School on Central Avenue.

Star Fish also donated some of their own supplies to the local Salvation Army which remained open several days a week for emergency food needs. Over three hundred boxes of vegetables, pasta, sauce, beans and other foods were given to the Salvation Army staff.

“We sincerely appreciate the support that was shown for the Plainfield Food Security Project over the past few months,” said Michael Townley, secretary for Star Fish. “Donors should know that their contributions have been and will be used to support that Project and our Pantry as we return to our routine operations.”

The local food pantry is a tax exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation. Donations are accepted through the agency’s website, where you can also learn more about their operations and history. Visit the website at www.starfishplainfield.org. Volunteers interested in helping for a few hours a week on Tuesdays or Thursdays are encouraged to submit a form on the “Contact Us or Donate” webpage, or send an email to secretary@starfishplainfield.org.

Anyone from Plainfield who needs food assistance should call Plainfield Action Services at 908-753-3519.