Rahway Food For Friends, A NJ Nonprofit Corporation

Feeding the Whole Person

Rahway Food For Friends, d/b/a Food For Friends, A NJ Nonprofit Corporation was formed and incorporated in September 2012. Food For Friends was born in February 1991, from a simple idea..."What are we doing in this community to feed the hungry?"  This question was raised by June Koch, a Rahway resident who worshiped at Second Presbyterian Church in Rahway, NJ. Pastor Josephine Cameron and Elder Dick Talbot were instrumental in hosting a weekly soup kitchen. In 1993 a food pantry program was started, headed by William Reeves of the current Episcopal Church of The Good Shephard. With this additional program established, Food For Friends was able to apply to the Community Food Bank of NJ located in Hillside, NJ and become a local food bank. As an agency of the Community Food Bank we were able to receive free food and buy additional food at discounted prices through the USDA and State of NJ hunger programs.  Approximately 125 bags were distributed to qualified Rahway families in 1995, by 2011 that number had increased to 210 bags per month.


Annual Holiday dinners were celebrated with a Thanksgiving Day Dinner with all the trimmings served on Thanksgiving Day (over 125 guests) and a Christmas Buffet Breakfast, currently a Christmas buffet Dinner with gifts and a visit from Santa, accommodating over 200 people.


     In 2006, Rosann Tremarco, re-organized the operation bringing it into the 21st century with both the Soup kitchen and Pantry programs being updated with new programs to enhance the needs in the community for children, babies and buffet style lunches.  With the sale of the Second Presbyterian Church in 2012, and merger to First Presbyterian Church; Food For Friends program had to stand on its own and become a legal entity and incorporate under the new management of Candance Ashe.  New leases were established at the First Presbyterian Church for our Soup kitchen program as well as kitchen upgrades were performed to move our program to the First Presbyterian Church (Davis Hall), to accommodate our increasing Saturday lunch program demands. 


     Currently we feed 80 to 90 people encompassing all age groups - seniors, families with and without children, disabled, walk ins, those hungry and many who are homeless.  Officially in September we became "Rahway Food For Friends", and formed a nonprofit corporation.  Our headquarters remained at 1221 New Brunswick Avenue, Rahway, NJ 07065, after the sale to Seventh Day Adventist.  We currently rent two locations and manage the grounds and upkeep of both programs accordingly.  We continue to operate solely on a volunteer basis.  We have over 70 volunteers who come faithfully to serve those in need.  


In  January 2014, the Board Members of Rahway Food For Friends developed 3 new innovative programs, to promote life sustainability outside of the staple survival package of food.   The ability to obtain enough food for an active, healthy life is the most basic of human needs.


Without access to adequate healthy food, people are likely to be hungry, undernourished, and in poor health, with high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other nutrition-fueled health problems.  To combat this issue we developed Rahway Food For Friends Diabetic, Healthier Giving for Healthier Living Program feeds over 120 clients with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. 


Food Hardship in the Nation FRAC’s analysis for the nation as a whole in 2012 shows that 18.2 percent of respondents reported food hardship that year – down modestly from the late 2011 levels, but as discussed earlier, otherwise basically unchanged from late 2008 to 2011. In 2008, the nation’s huge recession hit and the rate of households affirming food hardship rose from 16.1 percent in March to 20.3 percent in November and 19.4 percent in December. Since then, the national rate in any given month has never fallen below 17.1 percent. In other words, the nation’s food hardship rate – much too high before the recession – was made worse by the recession and the nation has yet even to retrace that path, much less start tackling the long-term problem. Families simply do not have adequate resources – from wages, income supports and SNAP – to purchase enough food. 


Along with hunger, lack of access to healthy food contributes to obesity and poor health outcomes. Rahway Food For Friends Diabetic Programs makes this accessibility possible to our clientele; each client receives a staples package of healthy food from the Diabetes Guide along with fresh bread, eggs, produce, vegetables and meats to promote quality of life through feeding.  The program was inspired by Mayor Samson Steinman's Live Well program and developed by the Executive Director Candance Ashe. Through the partnership of RWJ Rahway Hospital, clients receive food packages that are Diabetic friendly items  which we follow a simple meal plan designed by Donna Mancuso and Lauren Bernstein, Dietitian. Seminars monthly and one on one counseling session to all our clients to develop a plan for their individual needs.  This plan helps control blood glucose , glucose screenings, monitoring and educational / nutritional information for living well. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, edged out many other diets as a diabetes weapon, in the judgment of our expert panelists. Its emphasis on whole grains, fruits and veggies matches the sort of nutritional prescription that diabetics frequently hear their doctors recommend.  The program director, Candance Ashe is committed to the  well being of our clients and success of this program. 


Our Mobile pantry provides food to Veterans who are injured, disabled, homeless, needy and hungry.  We feed over 80 veterans and families through this feeding program.  Clients receive a supplemental bag of food along with fellow support via information, spiritual counseling referrals, homeless shelter referrals, social services referrals, and veterans referrals. Emergency clothing and blankets are also provide. 

At least one soldier, reservist or guardsman – or 25 percent of the nation’s total active duty and reserve personnel – that are seeking aid from food pantries and other charitable programs across the country, according to a rare inquiry about the food insecurity of troops and veterans conducted by Feeding America, a hunger relief charity. Another 2.37 million households including veterans receive assistance from food pantries that are part of Feeding America's network (this figure doesn't include households where both a former and current service member reside).

The help is sought for various reasons, experts say: For active duty, pressures include low pay, poor financial planning by junior soldiers, the difficulty for spouses to hold steady jobs amid base transfers and deployments, and the higher costs of living in some states. For veterans, the triggers are the transition to the civilian world, and, for some, living off low disability pay or retirement funds.

The program director, Michael Fitzsimmons, a retired Veteran, is always seeking new ways to support and give back to our Veterans. 


Our Diaper program is an initiative of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey (Hillside) Diaper Bank.  Diapers are disbursed to low income, homeless, needy families who meet the qualifications.  Clients must present the identification, the child, birth certificate, immunization records and proof of address to qualify for this program.  We currently serve 30 families on a monthly basis and over 35 babies in the program. Who all meet the low income poverty guidelines. We also offer diapers to our seniors during the regular distribution. 

    

Our commitment and love are to help end hunger by providing meals and food to those homeless, less fortunate and in need.  The continuing changes in public assistance for people in crisis, lack of employment in the area and the absences of services in our community has always put a great demand on Rahway Food For Friends.  For over twenty years, Rahway Food For Friends, with the help of many volunteers and regular monthly donations from churches, organizations and individuals throughout the community has addressed the question: "What are we doing to feed the hungry in the City of Rahway?"


    Rahway Food For Friends continues to struggle to accomplish our initial mission statement. Now we ask ourselves: "Can we do more?"  That question hangs in the air and in the hearts of the many dedicated people who have shaped and those who presently work this program. It had all begun from a simple idea proposed by a woman in 1991.  - By simply offering "food for friends". On May 30, 2014 we were favorably awarded our tax exempt status by the IRS.  Oficially making Rahway Food For Friends a 501 (c ) 3 organization.


At Food For Friends our patrons are not just strangers coming to get a meal, pick up food and leave.  The patrons are our guests, but most importantly our "friends".  And if you ever had a friend who was hungry or in need of shelter, clothing, food to make it through the month... you would do exactly what we do daily. Treat them as we would want to be treated with the utmost confidentiality and care.  


Our mission:  To feed hungry people via food distributions on a monthly and emergency basis. To operate a weekly soup kitchen, to feed the hungry, homeless, and needy families and to provide educational information on nutrition and social services, public assistance, etc. through literature and referrals.


Our motto:  "Feeding the whole person".  


Our Board of Directors:  


Candance Ashe - President                     

Joanne Padavano - Vice President 

John Hanbury - Secretary                                

Janet Slaughter - Treasurer        

Nadine Burns - Executive Director

Audrey Young

Bonnie Singh

Ronald McCray

Leslie Ficke


Our soup kitchen has (8) Team Captains who set a menu and serve the lunch with a team of volunteers on their specific week to serve.


Our Food Pantry distribution consist of registrations, distributing grocery bags (with a weeks worth of groceries) to over 200 families in the Rahway area. We are generously assisted by the workers of PSE&G with the loading and unloading of the trucks and the Vietnam Veterans. Rahway ROTC of Rahway High School who assist by carrying the bags for the patrons to their cars and inventory stocking. The children of Re-Direct Youth Ministries, NJ; along with parents and teachers of Franklin Elementary School, under the leadership of Bill Marsh, Board Member, pack each bag prior to the scheduled pick up dates. Our volunteers maintain different stations from hosting, screening new applications with the Community Food Bank qualifiers, registering and updating prior patrons, managing flow of traffic, infant and baby stations, maintaining additional food stations (ie; meat, fish, etc). Kitchen staff prepares a hot lunch for the JROTC children and Master Sergeant Mintz and Captain Jerry Parchman of Rahway High School, along with volunteers and those hungry from the streets.


To get any additional information or details about Food For Friends, please contact us at 

(732) 381-7201 or email us at [email protected]