The Interfaith Food Pantry (IFPO) (www.orangesfoodpantry.org) provides supplemental and emergency food to low-income residents in Orange and East Orange. They are the recent recipient of a challenge grant from the Millburn-based organization, The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org), which offers financial support and mentorship to small, effective initiatives dedicated to repairing the world. IFPO received an opening grant of $5,000 as part of a challenge grant.
What sets IFPO apart from the many other nonprofits is that it is a collaboration of interfaith groups working together and looking to solve problems of hunger and poverty from within their own communities. IFPO is a joint effort of four religious institutions in Short Hills and South Orange, New Jersey—Christ Church, Congregation Beth El, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, and Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel. IFPO operates out of the Church of the Epiphany located at 105 Main Street in Orange, New Jersey.
“The IFPO is a great example of not only interfaith cooperation but also neighboring communities stepping up to offer help where it is needed. We often wonder how many local problems could be eradicated if this model were used more widely,” says Naomi Eisenberger, Executive Director of the Good People Fund. “For most of us who lead comfortable lives the inability to purchase and have available toiletries and personal hygiene products is not an issue. For people who must decide between food or medicine rather than toothpaste or deodorant the ability of IFPO to now be able to distribute such products to their clients is quite significant.”
IFPO is totally volunteer driven and today serves close to 17,300 individuals, of whom nearly 40 percent are children. Clients include single men and women, veterans, senior citizens, families with young children, new immigrants, single parents, people with disabilities and individuals who are employed but do not make sufficient income to meet their basic food needs. Even if a person does not have a referral letter or other proof of need, the IFPO team does their best to make sure no one goes hungry.
IFPO’s board and advisory board members are active volunteers in the organization, arranging volunteer schedules, stocking the pantry, coordinating deliveries and anything else needed to insure that the operation runs smoothly. “The IFPO has been helping families for nearly 20 years with food assistance in a dignified and respectful way,” explains Jodi Cooperman. Jodi is a member of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun and treasurer of IFPO. “We are very happy to be connected with the Good People Fund and the network of grantees they have built. Just last month we took part in their program that sorted and distributed thousands of new housewares, clothing and food items to twelve service agencies in this area by way of another GPF grantee, the Redistribution Center of Colorado. As a result, we were able to provide items to families recently displaced by fires in this area.”
IFPO exemplifies how an organization can use its creative vision to help meet basic human needs, while operating with very low overhead and generating inspiring results. IFPO is supported by food donations, food drives, and monetary donations from member congregations, businesses and private individuals as well as local schools, clubs, teams and other organizations. Its goal is to reduce hunger in Orange and East Orange and to fight hunger in New Jersey.
This ‘good people’-led nonprofit joins seventy other nonprofits financially supported and professionally guided by The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org).
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Founded in 2008, The Good People Fund, inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world), responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. We provide financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts. Our grant recipients are leading their nonprofits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff but are driven and determined to make a difference in their communities. With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $6 million dollars since its inception in 2008.
Further information can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org.