The number of households served by the Caldwell Food Pantry has more than doubled in the last year.
The pantry has seen approximately 53 families come through its doors at 14 Park Ave. in Caldwell in the past month. That number is up from 20 a year ago, according to Department of Human Services Director Maria Burak.
“As soon as the food goes in, the food goes out,” Burak said.
The food pantry distributes non-perishable food donations made by the community to residents of both Caldwell and West Caldwell. The greatest need is for cereals, juices, kids snacks, coffee and tea.
Recently, the two farms at the Caldwell Farmers Market have agreed to donate fresh produce to those in need. Burak has provided a small number of families with vouchers which they present to the market manager, Douglas Piazza, a Caldwell councilman, in order to get vegetables free of charge.
Piazza urged the community at Tuesday night’s council meeting to support the farmers who are giving back.
“They are turning around and supporting us as a community,” Piazza said.
Tamara Bross of Caldwell’s Human Services Department said the reason the local food pantry can help so many families is because of its commitment to keep clients' identities confidential.
"If we weren’t anonymous, we wouldn’t be able to help as many families. They wouldn’t come. I really believe that,” Bross said. “These kids do go to school with my kids, they live on our streets in Caldwell and West Caldwell."
Bross said that the pantry does not ask for financial information, but does require proof of residency.
Meanwhile, it’s not too early to be thinking about Thanksgiving, Burak said. Residents are asked to donate canned cranberry sauce, canned and dried potatoes and stuffing. Packages, which will include turkeys, will be provided to families around the holiday.
Food pantry hours are Monday, 4 to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursday, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.