The Sussex County Food Pantry at the County Services Building is a busy place, not only during the holidays but year-round. The pantry regularly feeds 2,000 residents a month, in addition to providing supplies to 35 other community and church-run food banks, distributing weekend food bags to eight schools and a preschool, and routinely delivering food to senior citizens who are homebound or in low-income housing. When the holiday season rolls around, the need for food becomes greater than ever.
Carol Novrit is the Administrator for the County Department of Health and Human Services, and oversees the food pantry. She began the Stuff the Bus food drive over a decade ago as a way to stock the shelves at the food pantry for the holidays and beyond.
“This is about neighbors helping neighbors,” she said at a planning meeting on Thursday, Nov 7. “All the food we collect stays right here in Sussex County to help people in our own neighborhoods.”
The annual food drive will kick off on Friday, Nov 22 and continue through the weekend, but Novrit said there is already a deficit of turkeys available for holiday meals. Anyone wishing to donate a turkey now may do so by stopping by the food pantry at 83 Spring St., Newton, or at the Mohawk House restaurant in Sparta. All Sussex County police stations are accepting turkeys as well.
“We really need turkeys,” Novrit said. “We can also take hams. We just know that we’re going to be in a bad spot if we can’t get a good supply for Thanksgiving.”
The Stuff the Bus Food Drive is being sponsored by WSUS/WNNJ/MAX 106.3, Nielsen Automotive, the Mohawk House, First Hope Bank, RoNetco Supermarkets, and the Sussex County Association of Chiefs of Police. All pantry items will be gratefully accepted, and suggested donations include: dry and canned goods, cereal, peanut butter, pasta and sauce, toiletries, diapers, pet food and toys, frozen turkeys and hams, and foodstuffs associated with holiday meals.