Wayne YMCA Distributes Nearly 200,000 Pounds of Food to Families

By: Mollie Shauger | Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | Social Responsibility

YMCA staff and volunteers load boxes of food into vehicles of residents.

WAYNE, NJ - The Wayne YMCA has long played a vital role in meeting the community’s health, wellness, and child care needs. When the novel coronavirus hit the area, the Y responded by providing access to a basic need that has rapidly increased during the crisis: the need for food.

The Wayne Y has distributed approximately 199,000 pounds of food, or about 99 tons, since May. That amount equals nearly 166,00 meals served to the local community.

“During this unprecedented crisis, we are fortunate to have been able to support our community in a number of ways, including being a reliable resource for residents who are struggling with food insecurity,” said Laura Tiedge, Executive Director of the Wayne Y. 

The Y serves an average of 200 families each week, providing boxes of healthy produce, meat, dairy, and other shelf-stable items in a contactless, “drive-up” format, with recipients coming to the Y’s parking lot each Tuesday to obtain the boxes. Each family receives between 30-50 pounds of food each week, and many families also share the food with neighbors and friends, expanding the Y’s reach well beyond the initial recipients. 

With support from the NJ YMCA State Alliance, the Y has partnered with food distributors and suppliers across the state, including Seashore Fruit & Produce Co., and the Community FoodBank of NJ, to get boxes of fruits and vegetables and nonperishable items into the hands of local residents.  

The Wayne Y also serves as the lead agency for Wayne United, a collaboration of 10 organizations and entities that have joined together to assist individuals struggling with food insecurity in the local community. One of those groups is the Wayne Interfaith Network Food Pantry, which operates out of the Y.

We are very appreciative of the Y's generosity to include WIN as one of the many partners in Wayne United. It allowed not only our food pantry clients but many other needy, food insecure families in Wayne access to much needed groceries and fresh produce during the difficult times dealing with COVID-19,” said Barbara Cohen, WIN President.

Wayne Helping Hands, Inc., a small, local nonprofit, joined the united effort to help families in need. Their mission is to help families dealing with unforeseen financial hardships and the Wayne United initiative fit right in with their mission, said Alexis Lazzara Rewick, President of Wayne Helping Hands.

“We realized our community was in need and worked alongside others who also jumped right in,” she said.

Seashore Fruit & Produce of Vineland was awarded a contract from the USDA to participate in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, delivering boxes of fruits and vegetables each week to schools and organizations like the Y to distribute locally. Each box of food is intended to serve a family of four for about a week. 

“We are grateful to be in this position to do something about food insecurity during this time. We certainly do not do it alone. Our partnership with non-profit organizations are crucial,” Elizabeth Gregor, Marketing Manager for Seashore Fruit & Produce Co., told the Y. ”We appreciate the outstanding job the Y has done to help get these boxes into the hands of those who need it.”

According to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, Feeding America projects a 56 percent increase in food insecurity in New Jersey due to COVID-19. This means a total of 1.2 million residents will not have the financial means to access food for a healthy, active lifestyle. An estimated nearly 4 in 10 individuals who are served by food banks are relying on food assistance from charities for the first time, due to COVID-19. 

The CFBNJ has provided more than 40 million nutritious meals in 2020 with the help of community partners.

"The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is grateful for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and all of our partners across the state, whose tireless efforts are the driving force behind our response to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Carlos Rodriguez, President & 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 this crisis or are finding themselves in need for the first time in their lives." 

When the coronavirus struck New Jersey, the Wayne Y and its six sister branches were forced to temporarily close. Despite a significant cut in revenue and loss of staff due to furloughs, the Wayne Y joined the pandemic response alongside other Ys in its association and across the state to provide emergency food boxes as the need quickly grew. To date, the Metro Y Association has distributed more than 26,000 boxes and 461,000 meals across six locations in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Sussex counties, working with at least 20 community partners.   

About three to five volunteers help out each week with distribution at the Wayne Y, giving between 170-300 hours of their time collectively to these efforts.

“Without the support of our community, staff, and volunteers, we would not be able to make the impact we’ve made in a short time. We have no intention of stopping as long as our partners are able to provide the food and space is available,” Tiedge said.

For information about food distribution, contact the Wayne YMCA at 973-758-9039. To register as a recipient, fill out this brief form.

To volunteer, or donate supplies or money to Wayne’s food distribution initiatives, visit the Wayne United page at metroymcas.org.

 Strength of Community

The Metro YMCAs continue to provide outreach to the community during the COVID-19 crisis through blood drives, food distribution, virtual wellness and learning programs, employee assistance, and more. Visit metroymcas.org to learn more about our initiatives and how you can support the Y’s Strength of Community fundraising goal. 

The Y has reopened its facilities and programs as allowed by the state, including child care, indoor and outdoor fitness, personal training, and swimming.  

 

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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.

ABOUT CFBNJ

With locations in Hillside in Union County and Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County, CFBNJ works with a network of over 1,000 partner agencies to serve 15 of New Jersey's 21 counties, which also include Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties; The Food Bank of South Jersey is in Pennsauken in Camden County and also serves Burlington, Gloucester, and Salem counties; Mercer Street Friends is in Ewing in Mercer County and Norwescap is located in Phillipsburg in Warren County and also serves Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, and Sussex counties.

ABOUT SEASHORE PRODUCE & CO.

Seashore Fruit and Produce Company is the region’s leading distributor of fresh fruit, produce, and dairy serving the tri-state area. Seashore provides unparalleled quality, commitment to service, and competitive pricing. Seashore services a diverse customer base, which consists of: K-12 schools, colleges and universities, healthcare and senior living facilities, business and industry locations, national chain restaurants, independently-owned restaurants, casinos, country clubs, and theme parks.

ABOUT WAYNE INTERFAITH NETWORK

The WIN food pantry is stocked through the very generous donations of WIN members and their congregations, the community and many individual donations along with the support of various businesses and service organizations throughout Wayne, NJ and the surrounding areas. The primary purpose of the WIN Food Pantry is to distribute non-perishable nutritious food to eligible area residents in need. We also provide various cleaning supplies and personal care products, as available. 


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