Frenchtown Mini Food Pantry
A Source of Support for All
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pastor Peter Mantell of Frenchtown United Methodist Church received an email from Frenchtown resident Maggie Metz-Cooke asking about the possibility of starting a mini-food pantry in the parking lot of the church. Pastor Mantell was intrigued and within a few weeks, the new mini-pantry was open and ready to go. Over its first few months of existence, it was clear that the mini-pantry was an important addition to the Frenchtown community. For families that needed help, non-perishable food was available 24 hours a day. For families that are not struggling to make ends meet, they contributed in overwhelming numbers. So much so that the congregants of Frenchtown United Methodist Church had to start bringing the overflow into the church for safe keeping so that it would be protected from the elements – and occasional critter.
Soon, another Frenchtown resident, Ann Vitolo, reached out to Pastor Mantell with a new idea: she suggested increasing the pantry to allow for perishable foods as well. Ms. Vitolo and Pastor Mantell began collaborating on expanding the mini-pantry from a small box in the parking lot to carving out a corner of the church’s garage located behind the church to include shelves, a refrigerator and a freezer.
Building Community through Generosity
With a lot of help from some very generous members of the greater Hunterdon County community, the Open Door Community Pantry at 16 Third Street was formed. Mike Hathaway of Revival Construction in Readington volunteered to build the new pantry using materials generously donated by Opdyke’s Lumber. Rowe Electric, a long-time friend of the church’s, ran the electric out to the new pantry to power the lights, refrigerator and freezer. Stocked with non-perishable foods as well as fully cooked meals, fresh produce, breads and more, the Open Door Community Pantry is open to anyone.
“It’s a “Pay-it-Forward” pantry,” said Pastor Mantell. “We accept donations of non-perishable and perishable foods, most of which is made available for others, and some is used for making meals. Over Thanksgiving week for example, we gave out close to 30 full Thanksgiving dinners prepared with both church members and other local residents, as well as 10 turkeys and more… and we weren’t even open yet! Our goal is to be a beacon of hope and compassion for people by not only providing essential food, but also by breaking down the stigma and judgment that is associated with hunger in this country. Our pantry is available to anyone. If you are able to pay for a meal that you get from us, we’ll gladly accept it and put it towards more meals. And if you’re not able to pay for it, that’s perfectly fine as well.”
Local Businesses Rally to Keep Pantry Stocked
Pastor Mantell and the church has been working to establish partnerships with several local businesses to help keep the pantry stocked. Meals and fresh produce have been donated by Edible Underground, Lovin’ Oven, The Bridge Café, Phillip’s Farm in Holland, and Rolling Harvest. In addition, the church is planning to have holiday meals available in the coming weeks. Monetary donations for the pantry can be mailed to the church at:
16 Third Street
Frenchtown, NJ 08825.
Make checks payable to “Frenchtown UMC” with the word “Pantry” in the Memo section.
Or donations can be made electronically via the button below or on our Giving page.
Look for the entranceway to the pantry to be transformed by a collaboration of Frenchtown artists, giving the pantry a unique Frenchtown feel. Open Door Community Pantry is located at Frenchtown United Methodist Church, 16 Third Street in Frenchtown and is open 24 hours a day.
❤️ God’s love is apparent in this community in the many acts of kindness and love that is shared. ❤️