Ocean County Hunger Relief’s Food Bank and Thrift Shop Fate Uncertain
Ocean County Hunger Relief is unsure what impact the sale of a warehouse it leases on Germania Station Road in Toms River will have on the non-profit agency's mission after learning the property has been sold.
Executive Director Carol Latif said she needs a miracle after being shocked by news of the sale Tuesday, about an hour after announcing the agency's plans to help the area's homeless and those living in Tent City in Lakewood.
"We're supposed to have a meeting next week with the broker who sold the building and find out. We know that the buyer is coming into this building and I'm not sure what really is or isn't going to happen yet," said Latif.
Ocean Hunger Relief occupies about 30-thousand-square feet of the warehouse for its food pantry and thrift shop and Latif said the agency has a three-year lease only on 4,000 square feet it uses for the food bank. "I'm not sure with the company who bought it how much space they would allow us to even rent because they're coming into the building." Latif added she heard the property was sold to a kitchen cabinet company.
Latif said Super storm Sandy turned the small non-profit into a big operation. Supplies started pouring in after the Hurricane and various agencies such as the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, FEMA, the Red Cross and Salvation Army all used the warehouse because of its tractor trailer accessibility Latif said.
Ocean County Hunger Relief's Food Bank supplies its network of pantries and churches with free supplies. "The impact is huge and it's not only that." Latif said. She wasn't sure how many people visit the Thrift Shop, but pointed out it's a multitude of people because the agency works with caseworkers. The agency also helps seniors living in the nearby Silver Ridge and Holiday City communities.
Latif said the agency can't turn to Ocean County officials for help because the County doesn't have any space or facilities. She also said she doesn't want to move into Lakewood for space, "I believe that Toms River is the hub and that's where basically we want to stay, but there's very few buildings around that have what this building has."
Latif also said Ocean County Hunger Relief was planning to let other agencies use its conference rooms and offices in the building as a meeting place to help the homeless in the area, including residents of Tent City in Lakewood, adding that too could be impacted now.