By Kim Turner, Communications Director
The Cedars Church of Christ food pantry located in the Prices Corner area is run by Ed and Sue Maynard and a dedicated group of volunteers.
It takes a lot of man power to make this successful pantry run. Ed and Sue are at the church five days a week, and their days start early at 6:30 a.m. From sorting to stocking and bagging produce, the work is never ending in order to best serve the community.
In addition to the food they pick up at our Newark warehouse each week (to date this year. they have picked up 429,612 pounds!), Cedars volunteers also pick up retail donations from partners like as BJs, Acme, ShopRite, Panera Bread, Pepperidge Farms and more.
Every Thursday evening, low-income households in need of emergency food assistance and residing in the surrounding communities are able to visit the church’s food pantry. When the pantry opened in 2012, hundreds of families lined up each week in need of food assistance. Over time, Cedars has refined its process in order to more efficiently serve the public.
On average, the Cedars pantry now sees 110-120 households each week.
I visited the pantry with Trevor Turner, our Operations Director. More help was needed, so we rolled up our sleeves and hopped right in. Sue had us work in the actual pantry. Eight of us were responsible for filling bags with traditional pantry staples and a variety of frozen meats and baked goods. Before families began checking in, these shelves were fully stocked. By the time we were finished, our shelves were clear.
I was in charge of canned fruits and vegetables; Trevor was on side dish duty.
We worked hard as box after box came down the line. Pushing the boxes down the “assembly line” was easy as a church member built the pantry a special conveyor belt with wheels.
Each box was neatly labeled with the number of individuals in the household, any food allergies and special requests. I carefully examined the offerings on the shelves and picked several varieties of fruits and vegetables. I wanted to make sure the families visiting the pantry got a good assortment of carrots, peas, green beans, peaches and other staples.
Outside the pantry, families also had the chance to pick out fresh produce and other perishable goods.
Pantry visitors left with close to 100 pounds of food!
The time spent in the pantry was fun. Our two-hour shift flew by, and we had a great time meeting other volunteers, like Wilma and Katherine. Wilma has been volunteering for about a year now and Katherine is a more recent volunteer.
“I felt compelled to volunteer because of all the help my mother received when we were growing up,” Wilma explained.
Since we were newcomers, the ladies ensured that we were keeping up with the fast pace and stocking the bags correctly.
Volunteers are always needed at Cedars, Ed Maynard told us. For the pantry to effectively run on Thursday evenings, approximately 50 volunteers are needed.
Trevor and I had so much fun that we already said we would be returning for a second shift! To learn more about volunteering at Cedars Church of Christ’s food pantry, please email Sue Maynard at email@example.com or call (302) 545-6170. Volunteers are needed throughout the week to help prepare for the distribution and every Thursday to run the pantry!
Check out some photos from our visit!