Church Creates Summer Food Pantry For Children In Need

Volunteers from St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church handed out bags of groceries to children in need of food. (Photo by Alyssa Riccardi)

  BRICK – A local church is making sure kids don’t go hungry this summer, as they launch a children’s summer food pantry.

  St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church in Brick Township has created “EAT UP! Food For Kids,” a weekly food pantry for local children offering food that they would normally receive daily if they were at school.

  During the summer, many children lose access to critical food programs when out of school. The goal of this pantry is to fill that gap so no child goes hungry.

  “The food pantry is directed specifically for children to supplement the food that they probably won’t get because of the lack of school lunches during the summer months,” Reverend Maria Sanzo said.

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Over 40 bags of groceries were prepared on opening day. The food pantry will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Photo by Alyssa Riccardi)

  Sanzo explained how there is a strong need for programs like this in Brick Township when it comes to working with local schools and helping students.

  “For years we have been doing a ministry at Christmas time through elementary school where we buy Christmas gifts for children. In September, we fill up backpacks with school supplies and they all get taken to children. So, we know there is a need out there and of course we hear it through the media all the time, especially during the pandemic, that there are children that are lacking in food because they were not in school at the time, they weren’t able to access the school lunches that they could have,” Sanzo said.

  “It’s important that we feed the children in our community because they need good nutrition in order to grow and develop to their fullest potential. Also, it’s very clear that in the summer there is a large population of children who will miss a meal because they are not in school. We feel that’s the gap we would like to fill as best we can,” Sanzo added.

  The program opened up on June 18 and had over 40 bags of groceries prepared to hand out to those who needed them. Its takes place Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. until September 3.

  Families that visit St. Raphael’s food pantry will receive a pre-packaged bag of kid-friendly groceries that includes anything from juice boxes, pasta, snack pack cups of fruit, oatmeal, fresh produce like apples or bananas, as well as meal staples.

  Sanzo said they’re hoping the food pantry will open new doors into other programs, specifically one called “Backpack Buddies.”

Residents driving up to give food donations to the pantry. (Photo by Alyssa Riccardi)

  “It’s a nationwide program where you link up with a specific school and you fill a backpack or more with food for the weekend. Those children will take the backpacks home on Friday so that they have something to eat over the weekend,” Sanzo said. “That’s more of a one-on-one we’re hoping to achieve. We will never know who they actually are, but it would be nice to put Christmas cards in that backpack, and more. So, that’s where we’re hoping to grow into something like that. The pantry is the first step towards something bigger.”

  EAT UP! is run by volunteers of the church and the food will be sourced from parishioners, as well as the local community. The program is open to any child at any age.

  For more information, visit straphaelbricknj.org or contact the St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church at 1520raphael@gmail.com or 732-458-5711. If you would like to make a donation, they can be dropped off at the church on Sundays between 9 and 11 a.m. or at the office on Tuesdays from 9 to 12 a.m. You can also call office and leave a message. St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church is located at 1520 NJ-88 in Brick Township.