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 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

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