Food pantry in Somerset County, NJ loses ‘everything’ in Ida, needs new home
RARITAN BOROUGH — A food pantry operating mostly out of Somerset County is looking for a new home base, and some help from New Jersey residents, after drenching rains from Ida sent about five feet of water into its main hub.
"We lost everything," said Lori Bennett, founder and executive director of Feeding Hands. "We lost at least $100,000 worth of food. All of our refrigeration equipment — we had 12 units, they were all floating."
After staff and volunteers could finally get into the building on Friday, they trucked out 25 tons of wasted food. They were expecting to finish getting rid of the food on Tuesday.
The nonprofit that's been helping local families for years is now looking to help itself, by asking the public for monetary donations so it can eventually land a new lease and replace everything that's been lost.
"Our delivery van that we use to pick up supplies from different places ended up underwater," Bennett added. "It started, but I don't think it's long for this world."
Feeding Hands also distributes food from a church of Manville, which saw seven feet of water, and from a church in Edison.
"We're trying to find new locations both in Manville and in the Raritan-Somerville area, so that we're in proximity to the people that need the food," Bennett said.
In the meantime, Feeding Hands is trying to not miss a distribution day, which occurs every Tuesday, Bennett said.
At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Feeding Hands was helping 650 families across its three locations, Bennett said. Feeding Hands distributed more than $1 million in food last year.
Every dollar donated equals $6 of groceries for families in need, the nonprofit said.