What is MEND?
MEND is a coalition of 16 faith-based food pantries in Essex County, New Jersey. Our anti-hunger network has been providing emergency food to individuals and families in crisis for more than thirty years. MEND is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
MEND works to end hunger in Essex County by supporting our network of interfaith food pantries. MEND provides funds, food, social services referrals, volunteers, and a forum for all member pantries. MEND advocates for policies to improve the quality of life for those in need in Essex County.
Who is served through MEND’s pantries?
In 2016, more than 100,000 people were served by MEND’s pantries. Families and individuals facing unemployment, illness, fire, theft, domestic violence and other difficulties found food and encouragement at our pantries. The elderly, single people and families are all welcome, although one-third of those fed through our pantries are children.
What services are provided at MEND pantries?
Many MEND pantries provide support services in addition to emergency food. Some provide clothing, others serve hot meals on certain days of the week, one offers day care and another operates an emergency shelter.
How does MEND support the work of the food pantries?
MEND’s primary way of supporting our members is to collect and distribute food. One of the major supporters of MEND is Catholic Charities’ Emergency Food and Nutrition Network, which provides at a substantial discount warehouse and office space, key staff support along with a van and a driver to pick up food collections. In addition many individuals, local churches, temples, synagogues, foundations and community organizations all provide food and other donations for us to distribute to our members. MEND also sponsors special projects like Help A Family at Christmas and Share the Harvest to help those in need.
MEND also provides a forum for information sharing and community-building for members. Every month, MEND gathers representatives from all member food pantries to share information, identify common issues and concerns, identify service obstacles, and share strategies for providing assistance and advocating for change.
MEND is committed to increasing public awareness about the issue of hunger in our community. Through our annual March fundraiser, hunger walks, food drives, and other special events, newsletters about the work of MEND and our pantries, our website, and social media, our goal is to ensure that the larger community is aware of the plight of the thousands of people in Essex County who don’t have enough food.
Consistent with our mission to end hunger and improve the quality of life for those in need in Essex County, MEND is committed to advocating for systemic change on the local and state level. We envision a community where we all have the food we need to thrive.