LIVINGSTON, NJ – Since June, a group of 10 to 15 Livingston women has been making 500 sandwiches each week to be delivered to the pantry at St. Ann’s Church in Newark with the help of Livingston UNICO members.

The sandwich project was co-founded by resident Rita Riccardi, who was briefed a few years ago about the need for sandwiches at St. Ann’s while she was making them for the summer CCD program at St. Philomena’s Church. At that time, she and a friend began making sandwiches for St. Ann’s in their respective homes, but decided to make more friends during the pandemic who would have more free time to help the growing number of unsafe families across the county to help.

Riccardi said many friends and neighbors donated money to the sandwich project, while others volunteered to help put sandwiches together during a weekly, socially distant outdoor gathering. As the temperatures began to drop, the volunteers continued their efforts indoors while wearing masks.

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Nick Santinelli, UNICO member of Livingston and community food collector, said the current need for food in the St. Ann pantry is so great that 500 sandwiches are often gone within an hour, goes to it almost every day Newark to deliver food donations on behalf of The Sandwich Project and other Livingston-based groups.

“People are relying on the donations at St. Ann’s every week now,” Santinelli said, adding that the ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ensure that people who are going through a difficult time have something to eat.

UNICO National’s Livingston Chapter, which works tirelessly year-round for various local causes, recently donated $ 150 to the sandwich project, which Riccardi says he plans to continue after the pandemic ends.

In the meantime, the volunteers also have a mission to spread awareness of the dire situation if food insecurity continues to spread.

“We are looking for more volunteers to make sandwiches,” Riccardi said, reiterating that the pandemic has resulted in many people losing their jobs, which has resulted in an increased number of people in need. “The more people are made aware of the increasing number of hungry people in our region, the sooner we can solve this problem.”

Noting that there are currently four Livingston High School students attending the Sandwich Project’s weekly sessions, Riccardi said all ages are welcome. She also said Santinelli is ready to provide any food donations from community members who want to contribute themselves.

Contact Riccardi at [email protected] to donate or volunteer to make sandwiches.

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