WAYNE, NJ – The Wayne Interfaith Food Pantry has been feeding Wayne’s food-challenged residents since 1989 and for the first time since the organization opened its doors at the Wayne YMCA, those doors are closed.

The Pantry’s physical space is about fifty square feet which doesn’t leave much room for social distancing.

“It's not responsible for us to be open,” said the WIN Food Pantry Director, Barbara Cohen. “We are a volunteer organization made up of mostly retirees and, as important as it is to take care of our clients, we've got to take care of our volunteers also and make sure that they're staying safe.” 

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Social distancing guidelines and general precautions have stopped all food drives, so the Pantry has changed tactics and now provide only supermarket gift cards for their clients instead of food. 

The generous people of Wayne are donating money to the Pantry instead of cans of food, and one organization stepped up to help in a big way.

“So, I got a call out of the blue,” said Cohen with enthusiasm. “Dr. Sreepada from the Wayne Surgical Center called and asked: ‘What do you need?’ and I just gave him a number off the top of my head, and he sent a check that day.”

“We’ve supported the Food Pantry for years and once the outbreak started, we realized that there is certainly going to be a need,” said Dr. Gangadhar Sreepada.  “We’re in a fortunate situation as physicians in the community to be able to help.”

The Wayne Surgical Center donated $5,000 to the Pantry, which is something they do every year after Thanksgiving to help the Pantry restock their shelves.

CEO Dennis Simmons said: “Even though the surgery center is closed to everything but essential surgeries and revenues are way down, we knew the Food Pantry could use another donation. People are just super-stressed right now, and we wanted to help.”

Cohen mentioned that they have also received close to $5,000 in donations from Wayne residents. “There are so many wonderful, wonderful people,” she said. “With these donations we are able to provide much more to our clients. We used to give a $30 or $40 gift card, now depending on the size of the family can give between $50 and $100.”

The WIN Food Pantry is working closely with Rosemary Acampora, the Director of Wayne’s Department of Senior and Social Services. “She's trying to find some volunteers who would be willing to shop for some of our elderly clients,” said Cohen. “Because it doesn't do any good to give our clients a gift card, if they can’t get to the store.”

If anyone wants to volunteer to do this shopping, Cohen said to email Acampora here: acamporar@waynetownship.com

“It would be an enormous help. I know of at least three of our clients that we're trying to find help for,” said Cohen. “The Food Pantry’s top priority is to make sure that all of our clients get the gift cards to be able to purchase food. Our next priority would be helping those that can't get it for themselves.”

If you would like to donate to the food pantry, checks can be made out to the WIN Food Pantry and mailed to:

  • WIN Food Pantry
  • PO Box 3341
  • Wayne, NJ 07474-3341

 

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