(NEWARK, NJ) -- United Community Corporation (UCC), Newark’s community action agency, was determined to combat hunger during the holiday season this year as the nonprofit held its annual “Friendsgiving” distribution event, serving up turkeys, chickens, ham, and groceries to more than 200 area families.
The distribution event, hosted November 21 at West Side Park Community Center in Newark, served 270 families as community members filtered into the facility's gymnasium to receive a full holiday meal with a choice of meat and all the fixings. The various offerings, made possible by the generous contributions of UCC’s community partners, underscored the challenges many households across Greater Newark face this time of year when it comes to food accessibility.
"As we reflect on the success of 'Friendsgiving,’ I am truly inspired by the spirit of generosity and community that defines this special occasion,” said Craig Mainor, UCC Executive Director. “As we celebrate the season of giving, it becomes increasingly important to extend a helping hand to our neighbors. The significance of giving back to the community during the holiday season cannot be overstated. It's about fostering a sense of dignity and grace for every individual.”
Mainor noted that Friendsgiving, at its core, represents a collective commitment to ensuring that everyone, no matter their background, can partake in the warmth and abundance that this time of year signifies.
Addressing food insecurity in urban communities becomes especially vital during the holiday season. This time of year accentuates existing disparities, and ensuring access to nutritious meals becomes a matter of dignity and celebration. In 2022, 17 million households across the U.S. reported being food insecure, a significant increase from 2021(13.5 million households) and 2020 (13.8 million households).
Food accessibility is an issue that hits close to home in Newark, where sections of each of the city’s five wards have been designated as “food deserts” according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
By mitigating this issue, UCC wants to not only alleviate immediate concerns but also contribute to fostering a sense of community, allowing everyone to partake in the joy and traditions that define the holiday season.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in making this event a resounding success,” said Mainor. “It serves as a testament to what can be achieved when we come together for a shared cause. As we continue our journey at UCC, let us carry this spirit of giving into every season, creating a lasting impact in the lives of those we are privileged to serve.”
UCC’s Friendsgiving this year was made possible by the generous support of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Saint James Health, the state Department of Health, United Way of Greater Newark, North Jersey Community Research Initiative, FedEx, the Newark Vulcan Pioneers, Peoples Choice Lounge, Newark Centers of Hope, Essex County, the state Office of the Attorney General, and UCC’s partner Amerigroup.
United Community Corporation (UCC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been providing services for over five decades to bring about positive change in the lives of the people it serves and in the health of the community. UCC operates to assist low-income, disadvantaged, and at-risk individuals and families, including seniors and youth. UCC continues to expand and improve its services, which include; an emergency shelter with case management, a program for the socio-economic wellbeing of seniors, low-income housing, and a range of high-quality after school and summer camp programs for youth.