Local food pantry becomes collection point for Ukraine aid

War in Ukraine. Badly needed and greatly appreciated: Pop-top foods, medical equipment, and donations. Also: Andre’s Lakeside Dining will host a fundraiser to benefit World Central Kitchen and Ben’s Friends.

Sparta /
| 07 Mar 2022 | 06:22

The Sparta Community Food Pantry is teaming up with Saint Kateri Church in Sparta to collect food and medical equipment to send to the people of Ukraine.

“Our board member Elizabeth Siracuse has a neighbor and friend from Ukraine,” said the pantry’s director, Valerie Macchio, board president and pantry director. “The family is working with a center in Whippany to ship out supplies to Ukraine each week, and we wanted to get involved.”

The types of foods they’re looking for are quite specific.

“Imagine you’re hungry, starving even,” Macchio said. “You need food that doesn’t need to be prepared, which is why we are looking for pop-top items”

These include such products as pop-top fruit; pop-top soups like Chunky and Progresso that don’t need to be mixed with water; pop-top pastas like ravioli or macaroni and cheese; and pop-top tuna.

“We don’t want boxes of cereal or crackers,” she said. “Not to sound picky, but you have to understand that these people need single-serve items rather than bulk: small packages that can be distributed widely. It may sound strange, but at this time, we aren’t concerned about items that contain a lot of sugar. They’re actually good at this point in time because they will give people badly needed energy.”

The pantry is also looking for medical equipment.

“Lots of people have a pair of crutches or a walker from the time someone broke their ankle laying around in the attic,” Macchio said. “These items are also badly needed.”

As things progress and hopefully improve in the Ukraine, the pantry and church will be looking to extend items on the list to include healthier foods, clothing, and blankets.

“For now, we really need these pop-top items and plastic utensils,” she said. “If you’re hungry, your number one concern isn’t clothing, it’s food.”

A drop-off has been established at Saint Kateri Church with a secondary location at the Sparta pantry.

“We just ask that if you do bring items to the pantry that you label them to be designated for Ukraine,” Macchio said.

Saint Kateri Church is located at 427 Stanhope Sparta Road, in Sparta.

This past summer, the Sparta Ecumenical Food Pantry moved to a larger location and changed its name to the Sparta Community Food Pantry, which is located at 99 Demarest Road, Sparta. For further information call 862-266-0563 or visit the pantry’s Facebook page.

Fundraiser at Andre’s Lakeside

Andre’s Lakeside Dining will host a fundraiser at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, to benefit World Central Kitchen and Ben’s Friends.

World Central Kitchen is the first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises. They build resilient food systems with locally led solutions and are feeding the hungry in the Ukraine and the Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the war.

Ben’s Friends is a community of chefs, bartenders, line cooks, servers, sommeliers, host and hostesses, GMs and owners who have found or are seeking sobriety.

Tickets are $150 each and include eight courses. Seating is limited.

Can’t make it? Send a donation to Andre’s, 112 Tomahawk Trail, Sparta NJ 07871 (care of Cook’s Club fundraiser) or visit andreslakeside.com

For more information email andreslakeside@gmail.com or call 973-726-6000.

Editor’s note: Are you taking an initiative to help Ukraine? Let us know at editor.ann@strausnews.com.

This story has been updated to correct an error. The name of the church is Saint Kateri, not Blessed Kateri, which was its former name. The paper regrets the error.