The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Hungry to Help

The Kinnelon Food Pantry provides a tremendous amount of support to those in need.
Photo by Kristina Haviland
One of the donation rooms at the Kinnelon Food Pantry.

Hunger is a nationwide epidemic that does not appear to be going away, no matter how developed the country becomes. The USDA estimates that 10.2% of U.S. households were food insecure throughout 2021—that’s 13.5 million households. More than 650,000 in New Jersey face hunger every day. Approximately 175,000 of them are children. In Morris County, the food insecurity rate is 5.8%, which is 28,610 people.

For those who experience food insecurity, food pantries and food banks are life-changing; the Kinnelon Food Pantry is grateful to be one of those organizations. They provide a stigma-free location where participants can receive food and supplies without the fear of being seen or judged by friends or neighbors, as they reside at the local Church of the Nazarene in Butler, NJ.

A state resource called Hope One that works with the food pantry. (Photo courtesy of Corradino)

The recent spiral of inflation and increased prices for groceries has made access to the food pantry important for all. Mayor James Freda says, “We always joke about Kinnelon being a very affluent town, but there’s still people having trouble making ends meet. It could be an executive of a corporation and they downsize and lose their job, or it could be an elderly couple in town, so there’s a whole mix of people in Kinnelon who use the food pantry.”

 Jacquie Sheane, director of the food pantry since 2018, has countless reasons for why the food pantry is so valuable and the importance of supporting those in need. She says, “When someone comes in they can be very embarrassed; they could be crying, maybe lost their job, or their spouse passed away, and it’s a sad situation so we do it delicately and we interview them. It’s very heart-wrenching at times.”

With these types of situations, the volunteers are incredibly empathetic toward the people. Sheane says, “They talk to them, get to know them, they’re like family. They cry on their shoulders. When they start coming in you get to know these people and they won’t be just a number and a first name, you’re gonna know who they are. It’s a blessing for me that I get the chance to have that, I love it.”

Pre-Covid, the pantry was servicing 450 people; now that number has reached over 4,000. Pastor Chuck Corradino said, “It [Covid] was really quite an interesting time, we were delivering to houses but everyone came together and it worked.”

Also with regard to this increase in participants, Sheane added, “We missed the interaction with these people, which is something I love. You miss that, you miss the faces, you miss the eyes.”

The food pantry is appreciative of all the donations they recieve. David Doty, KHS Supervisor of Athletics and Activities, came up with the idea of donations instead of football admission tickets. He says, “I thought about it because I know the food pantry is always looking for people to help; I talked to [Gary] Suda and the previous superintendent, and both agreed it was a good idea.” Doty works with Sheane every week to coordinate the drop off schedule. 

The food pantry is not only receiving donations from KHS. Doty says, “Our people start to know about it; we send out reminders and I always send it to the other school we are playing, they post about it, and send it to their team and parents.

Sheane says, “The boy scouts have donated, the swim team was amazing, the soccer team, Lifetime Achievers club, and the football league.”

Other than food and supply donations, the pantry offers a wide range of support to people and families who are struggling. Corradino says, “Some of their stories are gut-wrenching. We can help in other ways though; we can provide counseling, and we have resources like Hope One and Navigating Hope which are state resources.”

No one should ever have to worry about where their next meals are coming for their family.”

— Mayor James Freda

Through money donations, they were also able to create a separate building behind the church, a mental health spot for teens who are struggling during times of crisis. Corradino has supported these kids who dealt with various mental health issues for years.

Once again, it is extremely important for both the school and town to recognize that some people have to make a choice between bills or food. Freda says, “It is important for everyone to try their best to donate, even just a small amount, because no one should ever have to worry about where their next meals are coming for their family so they have the ability to pay their bills.”

Where and when to support: 

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