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PCM Outreach: Addressing Food Insecurity in Morris County

The Outreach Committee of PCM spends a lot of time reviewing the non-profits who serve people throughout Morris County to identify the best way for us to use our financial resources to carry out the Matthew 25 directive we have embraced as a church.

In response, the Outreach Committee has chosen to prioritize groups that address food insecurity, housing needs, child development, and the elimination of systemic poverty.

It is estimated that in Morris County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, at least 26,000 people are facing food insecurity – that is 5% of the population!  There are many things contributing to this, from the high cost of housing to the high cost of food itself, particularly for those on limited incomes. What would Jesus insist we do if we are able?

Currently, the Outreach Committee supports three organizations that are focused on food insecurity in our communities. Here is a snapshot of each:

Interfaith Food Pantry Network (IFPN)

The Interfaith Food Pantry Network (IFPN) provides food that will be prepared by the recipients. They have a “grocery store” near Central Park in Morris Plains that includes food donated by the public, by local grocery stores, and by the USDA. Clients, who are screened for eligibility via income, age, and health metrics, get one-on-one guidance on what foods would be best for their nutritional needs, with choices that take into consideration their personal tastes. The IFPN has also begun creating boxes of food that can require preparation with only a microwave and a sink, as is the case with many homeless families who are now being housed in Morris County in long-term stay hotels and motels.

IFPN has a one-on-one relationship with their clients and works with other social services agencies locally to offer help in job-seeking, financial planning, healthcare options, and more.

The PCM Outreach Committee leads food drives in May and November to give the congregation an opportunity to support the IFPN with donations of food and cash.  IFPN has a robust volunteer program, from nutrition educators to stock-room workers to those with tech skills who support clients with computer access and digital learning.

Please explore the IFPN website for more information and to get in touch directly with their volunteer coordinator.


nourish.NJ is another food-related organization supported by PCM. They provide nutritious, prepared meals to those who do not have reliable access to kitchens, as well as ingredients for those who can make their own meals. What began as the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown in 1984 is now a multi-service provider, assisting households with food, housing, and financial stability challenges at each step of the journey to self-sufficiency.  Those visiting nourish.NJ are not required to complete an application or provide documentation, as that may present a barrier for some in accessing much-needed services.

There are four major food programs through nourish.NJ

  • Fresh & Healthy Meals:  five days a week chefs assisted by teams of volunteers prepare 1,100 meals which are served at the Community Hub in Victory Gardens and at their Sussex Avenue location in Morristown. The meals are culturally relevant and the menu changes daily.
  • Free Farmers Markets:  Community members are invited to shop for free and make their own selections of fresh produce, meat, dairy and eggs, and take food home. Markets run year-round in Morristown and Netcong.
  • Meal Delivery: Twice a week the nourish.NJ van delivers meals to families temporarily housed in motels and to those with no transportation.
  • Breakfast Bags and Purple Apron Meal Kits: These offsite volunteer programs provide guests with additional helpful meal options. PCM volunteers prepare 50 breakfast bags once a month; many other community groups and faith organizations also pack breakfast bags and take them to nourish.NJ for distribution.

Nourish.NJ has 30 volunteer opportunities available each day. To volunteer with nourish.NJ, please visit their website.

Table of Hope

Table of Hope, run by the Bethel AME church in Morristown, provides both cooked dinners and food for preparation at home. Table of Hope operates drive-up food distribution and walk-up  food pantries weekly in both Morristown and Parsippany.  The Morristown location also provides indoor client-choice groceries.  Clients receive pre-packaged bag(s) with a variety of healthy foods including dairy, bread, grains, canned vegetables and soups, fresh produce, and meat.   The amount of food received depends on the household size, as recipients must pre-register for food pick-up to make sure Table of Hope has enough to serve the day’s requests.  Weekday evenings, the Bethel AME church site uses volunteers to prepare to-go meals for those who cannot cook their own.

Table of Hope also operates a mobile Food Pantry that delivers food throughout Morris County. The food is provided by grocery stores and purchased from food banks.

Table of Hope is run by a few employees and many volunteers: individuals, faith-based organizations, schools, and corporations.  Members of PCM volunteer as a group at the drive-up Morristown Food Pantry monthly; some assist more frequently on their own schedule. 

If you are interested in helping to distribute food at the Morristown location (usually the first Thursday of the month from noon to 2 pm), please sign up here.

In coming months, Outreach will share information about the other groups we support which address housing insecurity and child development. The programs of these and the food-centered agencies are tightly intertwined, and all are dealing with problems associated with systemic poverty, while also serving immediate (and very real) needs.  Those organizations have shown themselves to be effective in using funds provided from the community and mobilizing volunteers to help in their work, but their need is still great.

As followers of Jesus we should also remember these groups and their incredibly hard-working staff, and their clients, in our prayers as well as with our pocketbooks. Do whatever you can for our siblings in Christ.

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