MAPLEWOOD, NJ -  The South Mountain and East Orange YMCAs are helping to feed people in the community who are facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 health crisis. 

The Y is partnering with the MEND Hunger Relief Network, Community Foodbank of New Jersey, and NJ State YMCA Alliance to fill and distribute emergency meal kits for families and seniors in East Orange, Maplewood and surrounding communities. The packages contain enough fresh produce and other shelf stable items to serve one person for several days. 

The South Mountain Y received its first delivery of food from the CFBNJ on Thursday, May 7, and volunteers from the Y and MEND filled enough food packages for 175 recipients in the East Orange community. Food will also go to Fairview Lake YMCA Camps to be distributed to residents in Sussex and Warren counties. 

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The South Mountain Y is also providing free storage space at its gymnasium for non-perishable foods so MEND can distribute these items to area residents through its network of 20 food pantries.

Amid school closures and economic uncertainty, more families and individuals have been relying on local resources for meals. Feeding America estimates that 17.1 million more people will experience food insecurity during this health and economic crisis, in addition to the 40 million Americans struggling with hunger each day.

"We’re happy that we were able to provide some relief to people who are worrying how they will feed and nourish their families day to day,” said James Goodger, District Executive Director of the South Mountain Y. “At the Y, we continue our mission of social responsibility during this crisis through partnerships with local organizations to address urgent needs in the community, including food insecurity.”

“People are in need and seeking support from our Ys and we are here to deliver. We are working diligently to combat food insecurities and provide hope in times of uncertainty and fear,” said Washima Redding, Executive Director of the East Orange Y. 

Goodger and Redding said they hope to be able to continue working with these organizations and others to distribute additional food in the near future to residents in the communities of Maplewood and the Oranges.

"We are grateful for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and all of our partners across the state, who make our work possible and whose efforts in the fight against hunger are more critical during this crisis than ever before,” said Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “Together, we form a network of vital support for our neighbors in need, whether they were struggling prior to the pandemic or are finding themselves in need for the first time in their lives.” 

Those in need of food assistance can find their local CFBNJ partner agency at cfbnj.org/findfood

“The Y stepped up immediately and provided us with much-needed donated storage space, allowing us to accept more food donations, make more food purchases, and partner with more community organizations, to pack and distribute growing amounts of needed food to our hardest-hit food pantries, and beyond,” said Robin Peacock, executive director of the MEND Hunger Relief Network. “The Y solved our short-term logistical challenges, as we continue to look for a permanent warehouse space, and, by doing so, benefited countless Essex County residents served by our hunger relief network.” 

ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges invests in its diverse communities to promote wellness, safety and quality of life for children, adults and seniors. Its seven branches in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hackensack, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility through an array of programs. Some 35,000 people belong to the Metro Y, which awards more than $2.8 million annually in direct and indirect financial assistance.