When Saturday morning comes along, many people do different things: sleep in late, catch up on work from the previous week, spend the morning with family, or do grocery shopping for the week. For others, Saturday mornings are not as simple. Instead of planning to head to the local store for milk and bread, they check their calendars to see if it’s finally the Saturday they can head out to St. Joseph’s Food Pantry in Carteret to get supplies to feed their family for the coming month.
On the third Saturday of the month, St. Joseph’s church opens its doors to the Carteret community and gives out bags of canned goods, and other non-perishables items to those who are having trouble making ends meet. These goods come from donations from the public, as well as shipments from the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
“I’ve been here for 25 years,” said James O’Donnell, the volunteer director for the St. Joseph’s Church. “We started out as four men and had about 15 to 20 clients. But they used to come to us, or we delivered the food to their house. Today, we’re up to close to 100 people a month; the economy has turned it that way in the last two years.”
O’Donnell is also a volunteer at the pantry as well as helper for pick-ups and distribution. Pat C., a volunteer, helps at the church as something to do in her spare time.
“After I stopped working, I was looking for something to get involved in,” she said. “I had joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and through that, I got involved with the food pantry,” she said. When asked what she thought about the Community FoodBank, she responded, “I think they do a wonderful job.”
The food pantry only serves those living in Carteret through a monitoring system. Each patron has a card which has their name, address, and number of adults and children in their family. For each visit, the card gets stamped to state that they have received food for the corresponding month.
The St. Joseph’s Food Pantry is open to the public every third Saturday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. They are located on 55 High Street in Carteret. For more information on how to send donations or volunteer, contact James O’Donnell at (732) 541-6003.
By Marianne Romero