St. Peter’s Community Pantry held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, May 20 in Clarksboro, welcoming parishioners, local officials, the community, and members of the ECS-NJ Advisory Council. Government officials present included Heather Simmons, Deputy Director for The Board of Gloucester County Commissioners and East Greenwich Township Deputy Mayor, James Philbin, Jr., both of whom thanked St. Peter’s for providing such a valuable resource.
The Community Pantry did not happen overnight but developed through needs highlighted throughout the pandemic. During the last 30 years, a major avenue of help for those experiencing food insecurity in Gloucester County has been The Blessing Store of the Evangelical Methodist Church, a neighbor and partner of St. Peter’s in Clarksboro. However, during the pandemic, St. Peter’s could no longer collect items for The Blessing Store and began a contactless food drive which soon became the primary source of provisions for The Blessing Store. As time went on the Evangelical Methodist Church congregation could no longer support The Blessing Store, and it was closed.
Rev. Mantelle Bradley and the members of St. Peter’s put a plan into action to establish a new community pantry that would focus on encouraging members of the Gloucester County community to utilize its services, increase the number of individuals and families served, provide nutritionally sound food items and offer staples such as health and well-being products. With support from an ECS-NJ grant St. Peter’s renovated a garage on its property to expand its current food distribution and reach farther into minority and underrepresented segments of the county.
This truly was a labor of love as St. Peter’s transformed the space into a viable pantry for the Clarksboro community and its surrounding neighbors. Thank you, St. Peter’s!