Millville is a close-knit community where everyone knows each other. Because of this, we have a very strong coalition of community partners. We also have an amazing team of Community Builders who live and work with families in the neighborhood that we serve. They have their fingers on the pulse of the community. When Governor Murphy issued the March 21, 2020, statewide stay-at-home order and closed schools and non-essential retail businesses, it became apparent that many of our already struggling families would need additional help, particularly in accessing food. Center City Millville does not have a grocery store within walking distance and many of our families lack transportation options to travel to the closest store. To support these community members, we used social media to request donations of non-perishable items. Seven weeks later, the designated collection bin outside of the Holly City Development Corporation office is still being filled!
During the first week of the shutdown, we learned the Help and Hope Food Pantry would close because the logistics of its building could not accommodate social distancing. As a close-knit community, we knew people needed the pantry and we knew the director of the pantry. It took one phone call to solidify a partnership between Help and Hope Food Pantry and Holly City Development Corp. We found out that the pantry had plenty of food, so we arranged for the pantry’s volunteers to pack grocery bags, which our volunteers would then deliver to residents’ front porches.
During the first week of May, we delivered 360 bags of groceries to 155 families within a 36-block radius.Holly City Development Corporation, a Millville Neighborhood Alliance partner
The number of families we are serving through this partnership has increased every week. To supplement the food our pantry partner provides, we have reallocated our New Jersey Health Initiatives funding to purchase food for residents. We are truly grateful that the reallocation of these funds was swift. During the week of May 4, 2020, we delivered 360 bags of groceries to 155 families within a 36-block radius. In addition, our volunteers picked up and delivered 620 school meals to 13 families, feeding a total of 62 children. We realized children needed constructive things to do, so we have also delivered 20 activity baskets to families with young children.
The outpouring of love in our community has been so heartwarming, and our partnerships have grown stronger. As long as there is a need in Center City Millville, we will collaborate and find a way to meet it.