The battle against hunger is an issue that afflicts more than a million people here in New Jersey. Charitable organizations like the Morris County Interfaith Food Pantry (MCIFP) help provide some relief, especially in the face of these tough economic times. The MCIFP serves several hundred families each year that otherwise wouldn’t be able to put food on the table each day. It is a place filled with dedicated volunteers and employees who pour their heart and soul into making sure people in need have a simple meal to eat.
Director Rosemarie Gilmartin has been one on the integral parts of the growth of the Interfaith Food Pantry and her story of dedication to serving the hungry began with a simple act of kindness.
“I was looking for something for me and my 7-year-old son to do volunteer-wise a while back,” said Gilmartin. “We went one day to help sort and donate food, we fell in love with it and before long it became a routine for us.”
From that day on Gilmartin, who was a high-ranking college education official, decided that helping needy families was so much more important than a job that is about the bottom line.
“I was here volunteering for a while and a chain of events occurred where several long time volunteers left the organization, and I was offered the job as director,” said Gilmartin. “I knew at that moment I should be doing this for a living, so I took the job.”
This year, Gilmartin oversaw a massive $2 million transformation of the pantry moving their operation to Morris Plains complete with a huge warehouse and enough capacity to handle all of the food donations and deliveries.
“Basically we outgrew the old building eight years ago,” said Gilmartin. “It was located in the basement of an old nursing home so there was not much room to work with. We were getting massive amounts of donations but had to find any spot we could to fit all the food in there.”
The main issue was getting the money to have the new location built, but Interfaith did get some help. It took longer than expected to finally move to the much larger location. Local businesses and organizations donated all kinds of furniture, machinery, and refrigeration equipment that lessened the cost. Almost every piece of office equipment, carpeting and shelving were donated and purchased at a discounted cost.
“My son who works with technology, wired the entire place, so we got help from all different sources,” said Gilmartin. “It was great having my son to help because it kind of brought everything full-circle since we started this journey together as volunteers when he was little.”