Food pantries join forces to better fight hunger in Mercer County
In order to better serve their communities, Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton and Mount Carmel Guild have merged food pantries, effective April 1.
“We always say, ‘better together,’” said Mary Inkrot, executive director of Mount Carmel Guild, which will house the combined food pantry. “We want to have the services without duplicating, and together, expand to meet the needs of the community.”
Catholic Charities’ Community Services food pantry at 132 N. Warren St. is now located at Mount Carmel Guild, 73 N. Clinton Ave. The change allowed Catholic Charities’ food pantry to expand into a larger space, while also sharing facility costs with Mount Carmel Guild, lightening the overall burden of operational costs for both agencies. The Guild’s site also has a parking lot, while the Warren Street food pantry had no off-street parking in a part of Trenton where parking is scarce.
Officials said the merged food pantry will benefit clients of both agencies in many ways.
For example, the Guild’s poverty-reduction work focuses on its food pantry, and occasionally utility and prescription assistance, as funding allows. Catholic Charities, on the other hand, offers services in mental health, addiction, housing, domestic violence, trauma recovery, immigration and more. Under the new partnership, Catholic Charities staff will be on site at the Guild to connect clients of the joint food pantry with wraparound services to address any additional needs they might have.
Catholic Charities also has a robust collection of clothing and non-food essentials in its food pantry; that, too, will move to the Guild. Catholic Charities’ “Clothing Closet” will continue operating at its Warren Street location for the time being.
Meanwhile, the Guild receives regular donations from businesses including Trader Joe’s, Wawa, Panera, and Eet Gud bakery of Hamilton that help fill its food pantry shelves. The Guild also participates in the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program for low-income seniors.
And with the assistance of the Trenton-based nonprofit Isles, the Guild recently installed raised garden beds behind its building. So clients of the joint food pantry will enjoy a steady summertime supply of fresh produce.
“New Jersey is one of the richest states in the country, yet one in 10 residents experience hunger and food insecurity,” said Arnold Valentin, service area director for Catholic Charities’ Community Services. “Children, senior citizens, veterans, college students and single parents especially struggle. Partnerships like this empower both agencies to better meet their needs, ultimately strengthening the community as a whole.”
To reach the joint food pantry, call the Guild at (609) 392-5159.