To celebrate its 40th year in existence, Human Needs Food Pantry is doing what it has always done: feeding, clothing and caring for the people of Essex County and  surrounding towns.

Few organizations in the area have a longer and more distinguished track record of helping those in need. Even in the face of pandemic-related challenges, Human Needs demonstrated unwavering commitment by continuing all food distribution outside despite the summer heat, winter cold, rain and snow.

In 2021, the organization served more than 5,100 adults and more than 1,400 children. That equates to more than 580,000 pounds of food (and more than 22,300 bags) throughout the year. This included a variety of meats, fresh fruits, bread and rolls, vegetables, and a broad range of grocery products. Canned vegetables, soups, sauces, pasta, rice, canned tuna and chicken, hot and cold cereals, and much more were given out each week. Also available to clients are nutritional supplements, diapers, wipes, feminine products and personal hygiene items. Volunteer drivers deliver bags to over 250 homebound clients each week as well.

Additionally, the pantry regularly offers medical screenings provided by staff from Mountainside hospital. Clients may be tested for high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. One on one counseling with a dietician is offered, with an emphasis on nutrition and healthy cooking.

Despite its warehouse location, Human Needs helps people from multiple geographies. In fact, the five major service areas, in order, are Bloomfield, Montclair, the Oranges, Belleville and Irvington. In addition, the staff members of Human Needs find themselves reaching further, helping clients from other counties, including Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Union, Somerset and more.

Yet, regardless of where clients come from, one thing is as true today as it was 40 years ago: All are treated with the utmost dignity and respect — in other words, as human beings.

Of course, this level of service and caring is only possible because of the incredible support and generosity of donors, both individuals and groups. The Human Needs Food Pantry receives no government funding.

According to Human Needs' executive director, Michael Bruno: “We are thrilled to reach this important milestone and grateful to be able to serve the most vulnerable members of our community; those struggling with food insecurity. The next 40 years starts now.”

Human Needs Food Pantry will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with a series of events throughout the fall. Please visit humanneedsfoodpantry.org for details on all upcoming events, as well as information about how to donate.

Kelly Coogan Swanson and Lisa Ingersoll on behalf of the Human Needs Pantry Board of Directors


Montclair Local’s Opinion section is an open forum for civil discussion in which we invite readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair, or previously published letters. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent the views of Montclair Local. 

Letters to the editor: To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@montclairlocal.news, or mail “Letters to the Editor,” PO Box 752, Montclair, NJ, 07042 (email is preferred). Submissions must include the name, address and phone number of the writer for verification. Only the writer’s name and town of residence will be published. Montclair Local does not publish anonymous opinion pieces.

Letters must be no more than 500 words in length, and must be received by the Sunday prior to publication to be eligible for use in any Thursday print issue. Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for grammar and style. While our goal is to publish most letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to decline publication of a letter for any reason, including but not limited to concerns about unproven or defamatory statements, inappropriate language, topic matter far afield of the particular interests of Montclair residents, or available space.

Town Square: Montclair Local also accepts longer-form opinion essays from residents aiming to generate discussion on topics specific to the community, under our “Town Square” banner. “Town Square” essays should be no more than 750 words in length, and topics should be submitted to letters@montclairlocal.news at least seven days prior to publication.