Donations sorely needed at Catholic Charities’ Mercer food pantry

By 8 a.m. most mornings, a line winds along the sidewalk outside Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton’s food pantry at its Community Services office in Trenton.

But in recent days, staff there have had to close their doors early after running out of food to distribute, leaving the pantry able to help just 25 families a day, said Richard Ferreira, program director of Burlington-Mercer Community Services (pictured, below right). 

“We have had people coming earlier and earlier each day to get in line, many of them seniors standing in this summer heat waiting their turn. It hurts us to turn away anyone in need,” Ferreira said. “We would like to serve every single person who comes here, so we need the community’s help to fill our shelves.”

Need surges when schools close

The need for food donations typically surges in the summer, because schools – which feed thousands of children free and reduced meals during the school year – are closed. That’s why Catholic Charities runs a summer hunger campaign called Hunger Doesn’t Go on Vacation.

More than 40,600 people received food from Catholic Charities last year in Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties. Nearly half of them were children.

“Summer for many people means backyard barbecues and ice cream at the beach. But for others, summer is a time when they go to bed hungry every night,” Ferreira said. “That’s why summer is the most important time for the public to give, either food items or financial donations, and help us feed every child and adult who struggles with food insecurity.”

To help: Food items may be dropped off at Community Services at 132 North Warren St. in Trenton from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. You can also donate financially for Community Services to stock its food pantry shelves by mailing checks to Community Services at 132 North Warren St., Trenton NJ 08608. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly into services.

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