Ways you can help feed, supply, support Montclair neighbors after Ida
In the wake of flooding caused by Ida, two Montclair-based services for residents in need of food assistance are unavailable. One is because of storm damage; the other is for a scheduled break, with its clients given extra food in advance to compensate.
And so the Northeast Earth Coalition is hoping to help fill the gaps, encouraging donations to its several Little Free Food Pantries.
“We are stepping in since both organizations that provide pantries to our vulnerable communities are closed at the moment,” founder Jose German-Gomez said.
The Human Needs Food Pantry wrote on Facebook that it would be closed Thursday because of the storm damage: “Our phones are down and we have lost our computers.” It urged people to check back next week. Someone who picked up the phone at Human Needs said the organization wasn't currently accepting donations either.
Toni's Kitchen halts grocery distributions to its clients the week before Labor Day every year, executive director Anne Mernin said; instead, clients are given extra supplies the week prior to that. Its hot meals for individuals experiencing homelessness and others in need continued this week.
The Montclair Citadel of the Salvation Army also distributes food, but only on weekdays. Food bags are available 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Meals are also offered Monday through Wednesday at noon, and breakfast every Wednesday at 9 a.m.
German-Gomez said more than 14,000 pounds of food are distributed every month through a network of food pantries in the region.
"Now more than ever, we need donations and volunteers to provide food through our Free Little Pantry locations in Montclair, Clifton, Cedar Grove and Bloomfield," he wrote on Facebook. "We are planning to restock three times a day until the other food programs are back to normal."
Donations of food can be made by first contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Monetary donations can be made via the group's website, at neearth.org/donation. If you want to volunteer to distribute food, please contact the coalition at email@example.com.
Those looking to request pantries can do so by calling 973-232-1106 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently pantries at:
- 40 South Fullerton Ave. (hosted by the First Congregational Church)
- 67 Church St. (hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair)
- 86 Elm St. (hosted by Trina Paulus)
- 90 Broad St. in Bloomfield (hosted by the Bloomfield Public Library)
- 65 Bowden Road in Cedar Grove, hosted by the Community Church of Cedar Grove
Montclair Mutual Aid is organizing a neighbor-to-neighbor cleanup equipment lend.
It'll try to match anyone who needs a fan, wet-vac, dehumidifier, mop, bucket or other equipment with a neighbor who can provide one.
Fundraiser for recovery
Overnight heading into Thursday, Councilman Peter Yacobellis started an online fundraiser seeking donations to augment government resources, and to help residents and businesses recover from what he called "the worst flooding crisis for our town in modern times."
He said funds would be dispersed to local organizations that can meet immediate needs as they become clear, including shelter, food and possibly damage repair.
With the help of Montclair Mutual Aid later Thursday, he was asking residents to contribute to the fundraiser to provide up to $500 in contractor services to up to 20 people who had been displaced from their homes because of the flood, don't have insurance, are not employed or are low-income. Yacobellis asked anyone who might be in need of contractor services to complete this form.
And because Thursday afternoon the fundraiser passed the $10,000 mark needed to provide those services, he said he'd also donate $1,000 to the Northeast Earth Coalition's free pantry project, to help support the inclusion of hygiene products.
Yacobellis said he'd continue working with local organizations to identify other needs as well.
Salvation Army homeless shelter
The Salvation Army didn't experience any significant damage that would interrupt services from its Cornerstone House shelter, Major Brett DeMichael, commanding officer of the Montclair Citadel, said.
The Citadel has received calls from people seeking assistance with clothing, and it will evaluate requests on a case-by-case basis, DeMichael said.
"We are not going to be able to give out items to all the callers," he said.
Community members who want to donate clothing or other basic needs can do so in the drop box outside the Salvation Army’s offices at 13 Trinity Place.
The shelter is full, as it often is, he said. But anyone in need of assistance or interested in referring someone who needs assistance can contact the Citadel at 973-744-3312. While the Salvation Army can't house ever person who may need a place to stay, it can provide referrals, DeMichael said.