Stressed supply chains complicate Thanksgiving for local food pantries

Lafayette. Many pantries are feeling food chain supply crunch, while others are finding ways to navigate the shortages.

| 16 Nov 2021 | 11:00

Stressed supply chains aren’t causing gaps only on grocery store shelves. Some local food pantries are also struggling to keep up on their stock.

The crisis has come at a critical time, with the holidays upon us. Some pantries are holding their own, while others need help.

Valerie Macchio, board president and director the Sparta Food Pantry, said obtaining turkeys will be difficult this year because they cannot order quantities.

“Cranberry sauce is the next thing we cannot get,” she said. “And no one knows what will be in the deliveries at the store level, so purchasing becomes difficult. We have run out of most staples in the last few weeks, and the cost is very high.”

She said pantries and the people they serve are all faced with the same cost of food problem. “The quantity we need to feed people on a weekly basis is difficult these days,” Macchio said.

Another pantry, Byram Stanhope Netcong Making a Difference Together, hasn’t experienced shortages — exactly.

“We rely on community donations, so what we have is what we distribute,” said founder and director Sharon Leon. “The Waterloo Neighborhood Pantry is completely funded by our community donations.”

Items are always in need are toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, milk (shelf-stable), eggs and any type of meat of venison. “Donations are greatly appreciated,” she said.

Getting creative

Bodhi Monastery Food Pantry in Lafayette is open every Friday from 9 to 10 am. Its volunteer manager, Duke Degroat, sees volunteering to run the pantry as his calling.

“I had been hanging out at the Monastery and befriended the monk who was in charge of the food pantry,” he said. “Before he moved to Brazil, he said ‘This should be yours.’ I realized I should take over running it and over the years, thanks to some incredible volunteers, it’s been amazing.”

For Thanksgiving, the pantry will be providing 50 to 60 turkey breasts and trimmings to 50 to 60 families.

“We’re thankful to ShopRite’s Partners in Caring Program and NORWESCAP in Phillipsburg for supplies,” Degroat said. “As far as supply chain issues, yes they exist, but we are finding ways to fill in with different items. It seems every time we hit a road block, we are able to get creative it and find another source or avenue.”

Project Self-Sufficiency is located in Newton and serves Sussex and Warren counties. The non-profit is known for the numerous Thanksgiving dinners it prepares each year.

“At Project Self-Sufficiency, we are continuously reminded of the extraordinary level of care our community has for those who are experiencing food insecurity and at no time is this compassion more pronounced then at Thanksgiving,” said executive director, Deborah Berry-Toon. “We can go the extra mile to ensure that the 500 families who will be receiving food from us this year will feel the warmth that we are fortunate to experience all year long.”

An overabundance of everything else

Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church in Andover was fortunate to receive Butterball gift cards last Thanksgiving season from a particular donor.

“We don’t give out turkeys,” said Mary McGuinness of the church’s food pantry. “But it was really nice to include a $20 gift certificate for a turkey last year, and we’d love some donations of this again.”

Aside from that, the pantry actually has an overabundance of everything else — so much so that they shared some with St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Newton and its diocese in Patterson.

The First Presbyterian Church of Franklin’s food pantry is looking for additional turkeys and sides including stuffing, gravy, potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and apple pie fillings, Bisquick, Jello, pudding mix, and corn bread.

Pastor Julie Rafferty invites the community to gather at the Franklin Pond this Sunday, Nov. 21, at 2:30 p.m. for a special outdoor Thanksgiving worship service led by First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and Temple B’nai Shalom. Dress warmly and bring a can of food to donate for Benny’s Bodega in Newton and Project Self-Sufficiency.

Grace’s Pantry is a food ministry of several churches, including Prince of Peace Lutheran, Hamburg Baptist, Franklin Presbyterian, Ogdensburg Presbyterian and Lafayette Reformed Baptist.

“We are asking for the following items to be donated to make up a basket for a family,” said volunteer Debbie Paulie. “Two boxes of stuffing mix, two cans of gravy, either a five pound bag of potatoes or a box of instant, three cans of veggies, two cans of cranberry sauce, two cans of yams, pumpkin or apple pie filling, a box of pie crust or a graham cracker crust, one can of evaporated milk, a box of Bisquick, a bottle of pancake syrup, two large boxes of Jello and two large boxes of pudding mix.”

Other than that, the pantry is running a bit short on turkeys and hams because of supply chain issues. Grocery store gift cards, milk and eggs would be welcome along with turkeys and hams.

The United Methodist Church of Vernon Food Pantry always does Thanksgiving baskets. This year, the pantry is finding it hard to obtain juice, coffee, tea, pancake mix and syrup, mustard, ketchup, and, surprisingly, laundry detergent.

“These items are hard to get for us and on the expensive side, so not everyone donates them,” said volunteer coordinator Sharon Fitch.

On the bright side, they’ve had not a problem obtaining turkeys this year.

Sparta Ecumenical Food Pantry. Located at 99 Demerest in Sparta. Call 862-266-0563 or e-mail to make a donation.
Byram Stanhope Netcong Making a Difference Together. The Waterloo Neighborhood Pantry, 276 Route 206 North, Byram, is completely funded by community donations. Open Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. or upon special request. Salt Gastropub is also a collection site, for non-perishable foods. Call 973-796-0214 for more information.
Bodhi Monastery Food Pantry. To donate, call 973-940-0711. The monastery is located at 67 Lawrence Road, Lafayette. Food is distributed every Friday from 9 to 10 a.m.
Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church in Andover. To donate a turkey gift certificate, call 973-786-6631.
The First Presbyterian Church of Franklin Food Pantry. Located at 11 Main Street in Franklin. Call 973-827-6444 to make a donation.
Grace’s Pantry. A food ministry of Prince of Peace Lutheran, Hamburg Baptist, Franklin Presbyterian, Ogdensburg Presbyterian, and Lafayette Reformed Baptist. Call 973-827-5080 to make a donation, preferably as soon as possible to make a difference for Thanksgiving.
The United Methodist Church of Vernon Food Pantry. Located at 303 Route 94 North in Vernon. Call 973-764-3188 to make a donation.
“No one knows what will be in the deliveries at the store level, so purchasing becomes difficult. We have run out of most staples in the last few weeks, and the cost is very high.” Valerie Macchio, Sparta Food Pantry