Even in Morris County, sprawling and green, dotted with McMansions and actual mansions there is a pressing need for food donations.
The Interfaith Food Pantry of Morris County is very short donations for Thanksgiving.
“We need turkeys,” Assistant Director Carolyn Lake said.
The distribution of Thanksgiving baskets normally starts Nov. 1, but donations have been slow this year, Lake said.
Lake believes people are distracted by the early winter storm. “They aren’t thinking about how close Thanksgiving is,” she said. People who would normally be donating to the food pantry may be restocking their own freezers, replacing food they lost because of power outages.
“Morris County has the resources,” Lake said. “We just have to reach people.”
Besides turkeys, the food pantry could use gift cards and monetary donations.
In spite of its reputation for wealth, Morris County has pockets of poverty. Dover and Morristown have always been known as having a needy population, but since the financial downturn, there are many new people in need. “We have people in Denville, Roxbury, it’s been a demographic shift,” Lake said.
About 5,000 households are served, with 1,200 signed up for turkeys.
Blue collar and even white collar people who have lost jobs are now coming to the food pantry. Lake remembers one woman who used to donate having to come in for food.
Even people who are working in places like retail stores, hospitals and day care centers may have to spend up to 80 percent of their salary for rent and have other expenses for transportation, insurance and medical bills so they need the food pantry.
“Food stamps only provide $3 or $4 a day,” Lake said.
“We have seniors in the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma,” Lake said.
While many groups have food drives, churches, scout and civic groups, individuals and corporations make up a large portion of the donations.
“We are a public-private partnership,” Lake said. The food pantry leases land from Morris County for $1 a year and the staff works with the county’s Office of Temporary Assistance.