In November, four-time Alleluia Fund grant recipient Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges sent a letter to John King, Director of Administration, explaining why they would not be applying for a grant this year. "Compared to where we were when we became a 501(c)3 organization 5 years ago, we are on much surer financial ground. We are grateful to all the Diocese has done for us and are happy that the Alleluia Fund will be able to support other needy organizations in our stead." Read their story, below.
Dear Mr. King,
I am afraid this is an overdue letter to thank the Alleluia Fund and the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for their past support – and to explain why we have not applied for a grant this year. The Alleluia Fund has been very generous to us over the years as your grant enabled us to distribute fresh produce each week to our clients. These fresh fruits and vegetables have been a welcome and healthy addition to all the canned and shelf stable items we normally provide and allowed us to raise our sights. As an Episcopalian and member of the Diocese, I took special pride in being able to say each week that the fresh produce was from the Diocese.
Over that past five years, our ability to interest our respective congregations and other organizations has grown enormously and so have our programs – all in conjunction with a tremendous increase in our client base. We see between 200 and 300 clients each week and will distribute turkeys and food for Thanksgiving feasts to 500. Because we are an interfaith group, companies like Investors Savings or Deloitte are able to send us volunteers and members of other faiths are also eager to be involved. Some examples are the group of Millburn moms and children who volunteer in honor of Diwali and that of a mosque in Denville whose women's group has collected socks for us, as well as the many church and school groups who volunteer their services. Very exciting to us, we are now a "Client Choice" food pantry where our clients are able to make their own food choices rather than just accept a bag of food handed to them. It is important to us that we are able to give our clients healthy choices, so providing fresh produce has been the first step of this transformation for us.
Because of this heightened awareness in our community, our outreach has expanded as well so that we now provide other essential needs to our clients as well as food. We now distribute diapers, wipes and diaper cream each month, as well as provide feminine hygiene products to our clients on a regular basis. We are in a partnership with Summit Medical to provide glucose and blood pressure screenings each month which have been lifesaving; some of our clients were sent directly to the hospital because their levels were so high. This relationship has led to us participating in a pilot program with Summit Medical and the Community Food Bank targeting a group of individuals with diabetes; Summit Medical Foundation pays for extra healthy food for these targeted individuals as well as monthly education programs from the Diabetes Foundation and additional health screenings like foot clinics. The Summit Medical Foundation also paid for a monthly allotment of produce for all our clients this summer and fall, which helped us stretch our Diocesan grant further – we regularly purchased bananas with our money so that each household could take home a bunch.
Compared to where we were when we became a 501(c)3 organization 5 years ago, we are on much surer financial ground. We are grateful to all the Diocese has done for us and are happy that the Alleluia Fund will be able to support other needy organizations in our stead. We don't rule out the chance that we might come back to the Alleluia Fund with a grant request at some future time – but hope that our current level of donations is stable and continues to grow. We thank the Diocese of Newark for the continued support over the past few years, as your Alleluia Fund grant was our first grant and gave us confidence that we could make our vision for the food pantry work longer term.
Thank you again for all you have done for us.
Food Pantry Coordinator/Christ Church in Short Hills Liaison
Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges
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