The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO) provides supplemental and emergency food, fresh produce, diapers, menstrual care products and toiletries to low-income individuals and families. The IFPO primarily assists residents of Orange, East Orange, and West Orange, NJ. The IFPO is an all-volunteer, collaborative effort of four religious congregations in Short Hills and South Orange, New Jersey — Christ Church in Short Hills, Congregation Beth El, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, and Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel.
The IFPO has been serving the Orange and East Orange communities for more than 25 years, growing tremendously from a small group that initially served 20-30 clients per week. In 2019, the IFPO assisted nearly 38,000 area residents,18,000 of whom were children. There were over 12,000 total pantry visits in 2019, double the number of pantry visits from 5 years ago. In these difficult times, the need for services has nearly doubled again. In 2022, the IFPO had 21,000 pantry visits.
Impact of Covid-19
Covid forced the IFPO to completely reinvent every aspect of our operations, starting with location. In late Spring 2020, the IFPO moved from our historic home in the Church of the Epiphany & Christ Church to our current warehouse space at 357 S Jefferson Street.
The IFPO currently offers a drive-up option for clients with vehicles to receive pre-packed groceries and produce, as well as outdoor, walk-up stations for clients who prefer to make selections of groceries and other essential items.
Since Spring 2020, IFPO leadership has worked closely with the Community FoodBank of NJ to also bring tens of thousands of pounds of perishable and non-perishable food directly to the City of Orange and East Orange Township for their distribution to residents in need.
The IFPO is one of a few area pantries that offers a Diaper Program to assist new parents. Enrolled clients receive diapers, wipes and diaper cream monthly, essentials not readily available from other sources. To be eligible to enroll, one must be a registered client living in Orange, East or West Orange with proof of need.
Before the pandemic, we distributed more than 13,000 diapers, wipes and diaper cream monthly to approximately 200 babies. By September, 2022, we were serving over 300 registered babies a month, distributing a total of 410,000 diapers in 2022. By February, 2023, we were serving 350 registered babies a month. The program has expanded both in the number of babies assisted as well as the number of diapers provided each month. Since Covid, the IFPO has been offering a full case of diapers per baby per month.
The IFPO is pleased to partner with Summit Health Cares and the Community Food Bank of NJ in the "Food Health & Hope: An Answer to Diabetes." The fifth round of the program began in October 2022 with 80 enrolled clients. In addition to IFPO's usual food offerings, participants receive diabetes-friendly food, additional produce and nutrition education monthly. Participants learn: how to make healthy lifestyle choices; appropriate portion control; how to shop for healthier foods; how to make diabetes-friendly recipes at home, and about the importance of exercise in managing their health.
Despite the challenges of Covid and socially distanced education program, the 2021 participants (Phase 3) lowered their A1C levels across all participating pantries!
The IFPO is a member of MEND, Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity, an interfaith hunger-relief network of more than 20 Essex County food pantries (click here for a list of all MEND pantries). The IFPO serves the most clients of all participating pantries in MEND’s anti-hunger network. The IFPO is also a proud partner of the Community Food Bank of NJ.
For the most up-to-date information about our activities, distributions and local partners, visit our Facebook Page.