Wednesday mornings are busy at the Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry. We pick up produce from our partners at Rolling Harvest, Howell Living History Farm, and Pennington Quality Market. Our team of volunteers (pantry heroes) sort the produce into 100+ bags for distribution. Next, our drivers collect the produce and grocery bags (packed earlier in the week by more volunteers) and deliver them to our neighbors in need. It can all seem chaotic, but the energy is high, the volunteers are enthusiastic, and the system works.
Last week, into this wonderful mass of activity, walked a family in need. Normally we don’t take walk-in customers (hence the word Mobile in our name), but the mother explained that she had two young children and no food in the house. Shannon and Carol, two of our volunteers, dropped what they were doing, helped the family pack bags with essentials, and told them how we could help them regularly. I will let Shannon tell the rest of the story.
“I’ve never seen a kid so happy about food. The son was probably in 3rd grade, and he was just so excited that he could have apple sauce—Apple Sauce! He could not have been sweeter or more appreciative. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Because we are a mobile food pantry, we don’t often get to see the genuine relief and appreciation that our clients experience when they get our deliveries. This week, all the volunteers on hand saw what their hard work means to our neighbors in need.
Since the HVRSD, Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough, and the HV YMCA came together to open the pantry in March of 2020, we have delivered that genuine relief to over 300 families in the Hopewell Valley. Today, we deliver groceries and fresh produce to around 80 families in the valley, and another 25 families pick up the same at our Saturday morning Grab and Go events.
Thanks to the help of the CHS Video Production students and staff, we put together a short video that shows the pantry in action, which you can watch here.
None of this would be possible without your support. The Hopewell Valley community has been remarkably generous with volunteering time, donating food, and organizing food drives. About 40% of all the food we distribute comes from local donations. Another 40% comes from Mercer Street Friends, the regional food bank. The rest we buy from produce distributors and local stores.
In the two and a half years since the pantry opened, we have spent $66,693.85 on food. We have spent another $7,179.70 on a commercial refrigerator, shelving, bins, bags, and other program supplies. We paid for this with donations made early in the COVID pandemic. Those funds are almost exhausted, and we need your help.
We ask you to make a gift so we can continue to buy fresh produce and other groceries for our needy neighbors.
We aim to raise $40,000 to carry us through the next year. That equates to $7.50 a week for each family that we serve. We have a variety of giving levels for you to consider:
- Snack Club: $50 or more
- Breakfast Club: $115 or more will feed our neighbors for a day
- Lunch Club: $805 or more will feed our neighbors for a week
- Dinner Club: $3,450 or more will feed our neighbors for a month
- Sustainer: Any recurring monthly gift
Finally, you can always visit us at HVYMCA.org/Pantry/ to learn more about the pantry, register for deliveries, volunteer, or make a gift. Thank you for all the support you have given us, and it is heartening to know that in Hopewell Valley, we can count on you to help our neighbors in need.
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