Food Pantries Still Face Needs After Sandy [AUDIO]
Three months removed from Superstorm Sandy, homes are being repaired and lives rebuilt. But, while the Jersey Shore moves forward with recovery, food pantries find themselves still serving an unprecedented demand.
Your Grandmother’s Cupboard is a non-profit pantry with locations in Toms River, Wayne, and Phillipsburg.
Since the storm they have seen their demand doubled and in some cases tripled.
All of the locations operate out of modestly-sized facilities as well as through mobile trips to community centers and churches. In the Toms River location, Program Coordinator Kari McGowan says they still see regular visitors at a greater rate than ever before. Specifically, people coming in for small things like socks or toiletries.
“The storm has had a big impact and it has increased our ‘customer base’.”
Jean Paradise, wife of Your Grandmother’s Cupboard founder Clark Paradise, notes many of the people who are arriving after the storm, never had to use food pantries.
“They usually look so scared, so nervous.” She points out.
McGowan says when they visit soup kitchens, pantries, or other gathering places, they could see more than 150 people, all of who still need to help supplementing the basics of everyday life.
“We could bring 40-50 tubs of clothing and walk away with nothing-not one single item.”
Like many pantries, Your Grandmother’s Cupboard operates off donations and volunteers, both of which have been dwindling, as the givers have become the recipients. Unfortunately, McGowan doesn’t see it ending anytime soon.
“I think it’s going to be a steady increase probably straight through this year and into next year. It really had such an impact on the lives of people in this area.”
The pantry has recently received a donation from online grocery delivery service Peapod, who brought $500 worth of food and toiletries. McGowan says with demand so high, the “shelves are dwindling.”
“A lot of people are coming to us so having 500 dollars worth of groceries from Stop and Shop is huge. And once this is put out, a lot more people will come to us.”
When asked how long 500 hundred groceries lasts, McGowan says, “not long, a couple of days.”