NEWARK — The Newark Mobile Pantry volunteers held a dish to pass "get together" on Dec. 4 in the St. Michael Church dining room. The evening brought some 40 volunteers together to celebrate getting the Mobile Pantry food distribution program up and running, to socialize, to plan for the 2014 year and to learn more about Foodlink's access programs from Jerome Nathaniel, the SNAP Outreach Coordinator.
Nathaniel provided an overview of the Foodlink programs offered in a 10-county area centered in Rochester. As part of the "Feeding America" program Foodlink's goals are to provide food access and nutrition education through a variety of means. He spoke about curbside markets serving "food deserts," areas of city neighborhoods where residents have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Of special interest to us was the commitment to partnering with community gardens introducing families to healthy nutrition. His comment, "growing up in Brooklyn I never met kale in person!" brought a chuckle from his audience.
Other programs like Cooking Matters and Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables aim at teaching low income families about good nutrition. He also spoke about the importance of the Workforce Development programs saying, "the number one defense against hunger is a fair wage job."
He ended his talk by highlighting the food distribution programs like Mobile Pantry serving immediate needs. Newark's program will see some changes in 2014. The distribution site will move to the Marbletown Fire Hall located at 6416 Silver Hill Road. it will be offered the second Wednesday of the month. Hours remain the same from 5 to 7 p.m. It is available to all with a self-declared need for food. Participants must bring a photo ID and are encouraged to bring their own sturdy bags.
Newark's Mobile Pantry is brought to the community by Foodlink of Rochester in partnership with Newark Rotary, Catholic Charities of Wayne County, Together in Christ, American Red Cross, Farm Bureau and Marbletown Fire Department. For further information or to volunteer please contact Sandy Thomas of Catholic Charities at 331-4867.