At 8 am every Wednesday, Deacon Franklin Henderson greets the people who walk through the doors of the food pantry at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Irvington.
It’s one of our more than 1,000 partner charities, receiving food from us to serve the people in the community. And it’s located in New Jersey’s most food insecure county — Essex County.
According to Feeding America’s 2016 Map the Meal Gap report, 18.6 percent of people living in Essex County are food insecure, which means they lack access to enough food to lead healthy lives. This is a reality for many of the people waiting at the pantry, and it’s why they are grateful Solid Rock is part of their community.
Gregory has been visiting the food pantry for about two years to pick up nutritious food. He takes on temporary jobs, but they don’t provide enough for him to get by.
“I’m 62 and just trying to make ends meet,” Gregory said. And the food pantry is helping him do so.
He doesn’t qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), so he gets food from the pantry and shares it with his neighbors in need.
Taking care of her four grandchildren, 56-year-old Emerald also doesn’t receive food stamps and depends on her disability check as her only source of income.
“I have to make that work,” she told us.
The pantry helps Emerald manage her budget by providing her and her grandchildren with healthy items, including fruits and vegetables.
“I appreciate it because it helps me stretch whatever bit I have,” Emerald said.
Fabienne, 34, also visits Solid Rock to pick up food for her family. She and her husband work, but they struggle to put food on the table for their three kids. And sometimes they need to choose between food and a doctor visit. She told us Solid Rock helps reduce the frequency of such tough choices.
Solid Rock plays a major role in supporting the hungry people in the community.
“It’s a blessing to us,” 63-year-old Robert said, as he entered the pantry with his wife. “Things were really tight and we needed to eat. Somebody told us about this and we’ve been coming ever since.”