(WEST WINDSOR, NJ) -- The Send Hunger Packing WW-P Program (SHuP WW-P), a program of Mercer Street Friends and the West Windsor Arts Council, both respected not for profit 501 (c) 3 programs, invite community members to a Ribbon Cutting for a “Little Free Pantry,” the first of its kind in the area. The Ribbon Cutting will take place on Saturday, November 9 at 10:00am at the West Windsor Arts Center located at 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, New Jersey one block from the Princeton Junction Railroad Station. All are invited.
Food insecurity affects many families and individuals who live in our local communities. Over 100 children in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District are provided low-cost or free lunches each school day through the National School Lunch Program. While all of us are susceptible to hard times, we as a community can help by providing what we can. That is where the Little Free Pantry will help – by making nonperishable foods available to those who need it 24/7. The SHuP WW-P program, with the support of the West Windsor Arts Council, hopes that the availability of the Little Free Pantry will address issues of food insecurity in our community. SHuP WW-P Program members saw a need to provide food to the entire family. By closing meal gaps, families can be well-nourished and ready to work and learn.
Doreen Garelick, a Board member of the West Windsor Arts Council and a member of the SHuP WW-P Programs brought the idea of having a Little Free Pantry to the attention of both organizations and provided the re-purposed, metal, newspaper box that will serve as the pantry container. According to Garelick, “SHuP WW-P selected the West Windsor Arts Council as a partner for this important project because we knew that not only is the location a central hub in our community, but the Arts Council would support this community need and share its creativity to make the pantry a thing of beauty as well.”
Artist Ryan Gilleece, a teacher at the West Windsor Arts Council, brought the SHuP WW-P team’s design concept for the box to life with a beautiful artistic sketch and oversaw the painting of the box during the West Windsor Arts Council’s recent “Autumn Arts Afternoon” free family arts festival. Over 20 community members of all ages participated. The Little Free Pantry will be placed in its final location near the parking lot of the West Windsor Arts Center at 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, NJ. The SHuP WW-P Little Free Pantry will also be placed on the official Little Free Pantry map.
The ribbon cutting dedication on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 10:00am will be attended by West Windsor Mayor, Hemant Marathe; Aylin Green, Executive Director of the West Windsor Arts Council; Melissa Hager, Organizer of SHuP WW-P; Armstead Johnson, Executive Director of Mercer Street Friends; and Brian Peterson, Mercer Street Friends Food Pantry and Send Hunger Packing Liaison. All are invited to attend the ribbon cutting and to visit the pantry, which will be available 24 hours a day. Both organizations ask that community members, “take what they need and give what they can.”
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Send Hunger Packing WW-P (SHuP WW-P), a program of Mercer Street Friends, began about 2.5 years ago in the WW-P School District. Through this program, on Friday afternoons during the school year, weekend food is placed in the backpacks of food insecure children in grades K-6. . It has been found that children who regularly do not get enough nutritious food frequently have behavioral, emotional and academic problems; this program has been found to make a difference. To donate, go to www.mercerstreetfriends.org click on the Donate Today tab and write “SHuP WW-P Program” in the Additional Comments box at the bottom of the donation page.
As a non-profit organization, the West Windsor Arts Council’s (WWAC) mission is to provide high quality cultural programming that brings people together and transforms the world around us by inspiring, educating and promoting the arts and art appreciation for our diverse community. WWAC presents a range of multi-disciplinary arts programs for all ages including 175 arts and cultural events serving roughly 14,500 people annually. In addition, WWAC offers arts scholarships based on need and partners with local service organizations to break down the barriers to arts education and participation.
PHOTO: The Little Free Pantry being painted by the community. Photo by Kimberly Ducote Schimmel.