Bread of Life Food Pantry
Our Lady of Fatima Parish
Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Since the summer of 2009, the volunteer-run Bread of Life Food Pantry at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Perth Amboy has provided nutrition assistance and social support to the community at the parish through a partnership with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (CFBNJ).
The mission of the food pantry is to help families supplement their food supply in a compassionate atmosphere where each person is treated with respect and dignity. At present, the pantry feeds around 100 families each month; many of their clients are individuals with disabilities, senior citizens living on fixed incomes, the unemployed, and low-income working families.
The Bread of Life Food Pantry dispenses nonperishable food the third Wednesday of every month and the following Saturday. By Saturday, the pantry has usually run out of the food donated by their partner organization, CFBNJ, and has to rely on food and monetary donations from the community to make up the difference.
Along with nutritious food, the pantry also delivers other crucial resources for their clients—including help with applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and health insurance, and information on men’s and women's health, nutrition, and other relevant topics.
Occasionally community members need food sooner than normal hours at the pantry allow. For these circumstances, Bread of Life has an emergency food program, separate from the main CFBNJ program. Donations for this emergency nutrition assistance program come from local businesses and parish members. In such cases, the pantry provides food immediately along with information on how to register for the regular food pantry program.
Fifteen percent of households in America are classified as food insecure. This stark reality jeopardizes the development of children and adolescents in these at-risk families. Poor nutrition limits a student’s ability to thrive in the classroom, contributing to the education achievement gap. In communities like Perth Amboy, where almost 30% of the community’s children are living below the poverty level, programs like the Bread of Life Food Pantry provide critical support to families who are struggling to break the cycle of poverty.