NEWARK, NJ – United Community Corporation will open a second pantry in Newark and expand its food distribution program to the East Ward on Monday.
On May 3rd at 10 a.m., UCC will hold a grand opening event at the Wolff Memorial Presbyterian Church on Ann Street, at which the organization will also launch the UCC Clothing Boutique. The boutique will be set up like a normal shop, but it is completely free for the participants. The new location is operational on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We want to be visible to the East Ward community and show that we can help,” said Craig Mainor, executive director of United Community Corporation. “We know the dire impact of the pandemic on this neighborhood and we want to be there to help. Many of these people are important workers and we want to be able to serve them. “
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The goal of the opening in the East Ward has long been in the works for UCC. Newark’s Ironbound District has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. When the Ironbound recorded a 40% COVID test positivity rate, it prompted Newark Mayor Ras Baraka to conduct a 10-day shutdown of the city last year.
Securing a food distribution point in an area of Newark so badly affected by the coronavirus was a key factor in the UCC’s expansion into the Wolff Memorial Presbyterian Church.
UCC’s pantry served over 30,000 people in the first three months of 2021. In 2020, UCC’s pantry served 156,177-150,000 of those who came during COVID.
A pantry in Ironbound will not only make this vital service more accessible, it will also allow UCC to serve a very diverse working class community.
“The ones who benefit from our branching, growing and expanding are the communities – the Spanish and Portuguese people who live in the East Ward,” said Maria Torres, manager of the UCC Food Pantry. “The immigrant community will also really benefit from this. They don’t always get a lot of help because they don’t have documentation. I am very happy that we will help this population and this area. I know that many people in need are very desperate. “
The UCC Clothing Boutique is located on the second floor of Ann Street. At no cost, customers can walk in, browse and shop for free as if they were in a normal store.
“I want to make people feel like they’re walking into a store,” said Torres, who was recently named a recipient of the Russ Berrie Marking a Difference Award. “It won’t just be clothes. We’ll have toys, book bags, and all sorts of things. I want our ‘customers’ to know that they are just as important to us as they are in any other business. “
UCC is already running its energy aid program on the first floor of Wolff Memorial Presbyterian Church and plans to provide even more services and easier access for residents of the East Ward.
“The establishment of a resource in the East Ward with our name illustrates the need for community action and the promise of community action in this day and age,” Mainor said. “Community action is a promise that if you suffer from poverty we will do all we can to help you find it. Bringing a place closer to the people who need us removes the barrier of travel and the barrier of familiarity with the neighborhood. We want to be able to serve as many people who need us as possible. “