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People come to pick up donated food outside of Office of Concern Food Pantry in Englewood on 06/03/20. The demand on the food pantry has increased more than 100 percent as the pandemic continues. Video by Mitsu Yasukawa.

NorthJersey.com

Driving by, you might assume that cute elevated cabinet in your neighborhood is one of the “Little Free Libraries” that have come to dot suburban streets, where residents help themselves to books others have finished, and donate those they no longer need.

But the neat green case with the glass door on South Fullerton Avenue is Montclair’s first “Little Free Pantry,” a public cupboard of sorts that neighbors stock with food staples for those in need.

Little Free Pantry, whose motto is “Give what you can, take what you need,” is a national grassroots movement to help address the growing problem of food insecurity triggered by the COVID pandemic. 

This year, nearly one in four families has experienced food insecurity, a 400 percent increase from 2018, according to the organization’s website. Black families are twice as likely as whites to face food insecurity.

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Montclair’s Little Free Pantry was installed Saturday in front of the First Congregational Church, a joint project with the Northeast Earth Coalition and the church.

In attendance were Jose German-Gomez, head of the coalition, and the Rev. Ann Ralosk, who gave a blessing. Volunteers from Montclair Mutual Aid donated food and helped install the pantry, which was constructed by carpenter Tom Mulligan. 

Also on hand were Third Ward council member Lori Price-Abrams, former council member Renne Baskerville and Trina Paulus, the town’s “Butterfly Lady.” 

There are Little Free Pantries in Red Bank and West Windsor, and the coalition is planning two more for Montclair. 

To help their efforts, send an email to info@neearth.org. To build your own, consult the little pantry website, which contains detailed plans and instructions on how to build and stock a pantry, and how to host door-to-door food drives.

Julia Martin covers Montclair for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: jmartin@gannettnj.com

Twitter: @TheWriteJulia 

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