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Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity (MEND) works to alleviate hunger by providing fresh and healthy food, funds, volunteers, and a collaborative forum for its member pantries, so that they may share ideas and resources, and make a greater impact on the communities they serve. MEND also advocates for policies to eliminate food insecurity and to improve the lives of our patrons.
MEND is an interfaith hunger relief network of 17 food pantries located throughout Essex County, NJ. The MEND network includes eight pantries in Newark, two in East Orange, and the remaining seven in Bloomfield, Irvington, Maplewood, Montclair, Orange, South Orange, and West Orange.
In 2017, MEND pantries served 117,679 Essex County residents, of whom 37% were children. Many of MEND’s patrons are the working poor - those who have jobs, but do not earn enough to consistently provide food for themselves or their families. Many others, such as seniors or the disabled, are struggling to get by on modest fixed incomes. All those in need of food are welcome.
MEND provides infrastructure and financial support, along with food sourcing and distribution, so its pantries can do what they do best - serve their clients. MEND applies for grants that benefit its pantries. It also builds relationships with businesses, foundations, schools, service organizations, and government agencies and officials, so that it may help its pantries make a greater impact. MEND also provides a monthly forum for information-sharing, support, and community building among its pantries.
MEND recently launched a new mobile food pantry, known as The Green Bean, to collect and distribute more fresh and healthy food to underserved communities throughout Essex County.