Outpouring of donations even as need increases

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – As more food is being given out at area pantries in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, some coordinators aren’t worried about running out.

Holy Redeemer of Swainton has seen more than 30 new recipients in November. The storm brought an approximately 35-40 percent increase to Cape Human Resources. The Puerto Rican Action Committee’s food pantry of Woodbine has served 127 people as of Monday, with 60 percent being hurricane victims.

Organizers say people aren’t turned away if there’s a need for food.

 “We have ways to get the food here,” said Marion Matticola, food pantry coordinator at Holy Redeemer.

People who have lost jobs because of the storm have come to Holy Redeemer, she said. Hurricane Sandy brought flood waters into businesses on the barrier islands, causing them to be shut down, she said. One of the places is Sea Isle City.

More than 500 families have been tallied for November at Holy Redeemer, she said during an interview Monday. In November 2011, 535 came to the shelter.

She expects to “be well over that” when the month ends.

Families get food once a month. This month, they received turkeys, cereal, canned goods and more.

The pantry receives food from The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch of Atlantic County, with pickups being Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Holy Redeemer relies on donations and support from federal and state governments, Matticola said.

“A lot of it is neighbors helping neighbors,” she said.

Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School of Dennis Township donated two truckloads of supplies, including canned goods. That’s about 50 percent more items than last year, she said.

Area residents also donated turkeys to the pantry. The Cape May County Library also collected items for the food pantry following Hurricane Sandy.

More information about the Holy Redeemer food pantry is available by calling 463-6062. The pantry is at 1801 Route 9 in Swainton.

The Holy Redeemer food pantry has been in existence for more than 20 years.

The food pantry at Cape Human Resources in Whitesboro has faced an approximately 35-40 percent increase because of Hurricane Sandy. Families with children are especially after food, said food pantry director Vera Davis.

Although the pantry is intended for people on food stamps, Social Security, welfare and disability, no one will be turned away, she said.

Many senior citizens visit the pantry, she said.

“The seniors have a lot of pride,” Davis said.

She said they pay taxes before they get groceries.

Among items available at the food pantry include cereal, milk, rice, meat and produce. Cape Human Resources provides food that should last for three to five days.

From January through October, 727 families received food from the pantry, according to information from Cape Human Resources. Eighty-six came in October compared to 93 in September.

The food pantry has also seen an increase because meat is given out, Davis said.

As of Monday morning, the pantry was about empty, but Davis said that’s nothing new. Each week, food is brought from The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch.

The food pantry is supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and donations, and the food comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch.

“We are always open to donations,” she said.

Cape Human Resources also distributed Thanksgiving baskets to about 75 people who are on low incomes or are senior citizens, Davis said.

The pantry also gets diapers from Christ Child Society of Cape May County.

“That’s really a godsend,” she said.

Hurricane or not, the supply goes quickly, Davis said.

The pantry has been in operation for about 30 years, she said.

The food pantry is open from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at 101 East Main St. in Whitesboro. For more information call 465-4531.

Puerto Rican Action Committee’s food pantry in Woodbine has served 127 people, with 60 percent being hurricane victims, said office manager Jesusa Ramos on Monday. Some of the people after food are from Wildwood, she said.

Puerto Rican Action Committee’s food pantry caters to all of Cape May County, said David Rodriguez, executive director.

“As far as food, we don’t turn anyone down,” he said.

Puerto Rican Action Committee’s food pantry is supported by The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch, donations and FEMA.

Food is given out to families at least once a month.

Meat goes quickly, Ramos said.

She said the food pantry receives a case of chicken.

“That won’t last one day,” she said.

That was the case even before Sandy bore down on Cape May County, Ramos said.

She’s not worried about the supply of canned goods at the food pantry.

The Puerto Rican Action Committee is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 604 Franklin St. in Woodbine. The food pantry has been operating since 2007.

Call 861-5800 for more information.

At least one food pantry in Cape May County has not seen an increase because of Hurricane Sandy.

A mobile food pantry visits Rio Grande the second Friday of the month. Food is available from 10 a.m.-noon outside St. Mary’s This ‘n’ That Thrift Shop, The Branches, 1304 Route 47, Village Shoppes.

“This mobile is once a month and has a fairly steady client base,” said Margie Barham, executive director of The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch. “However, other pantries in Cape May County saw an increase following the hurricane.  Holy Redeemer was seeing 100 a day when normally they see 400 a month. Bethel Commandment in Whitesboro also saw significant increases. These are pantries that are open multiple days a week.”

In November, 84 families visited the mobile food pantry compared to 95 in October, according to Barham.

In order to receive food at the mobile food pantry site, people must meet USDA guidelines, she said.

“The pantry serves residents of Rio Grande and those living in towns in the immediate area that lack pantry services. Wildwood residents are served at the Wildwood Mobile Pantry,” she said.

Canned fruits and vegetables, milk, rice, oatmeal and more have been distributed at the mobile food pantry. The food is USDA and state commodities and donated items.

“We are fortunate that the community is very generous, but as fast as the food comes in, it is distributed to those in need,” Barham said.

Since Hurricane Sandy, the amount of food given out at The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch of Egg Harbor Township has “more than doubled,” she said.

"Our Cape May County agencies have been seeing an increase as everyone has been," she said.

Donations have helped The Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch in Egg Harbor Township stay stocked, she said. Grants and private donations fund The Community FoodBank and its services.

"The need's there every day,” Barham said.

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