Clifton Students Help Keep Father English Food Pantry Well-stocked
February 17, 2017, Clifton, NJ – Bags of rice fill a box by the front door to American Institute’s Clifton campus. There is brown rice and white rice, long-grain rice and wild rice, because different people like different kinds of rice. Another month, the box was filled with different kinds of beans, all donated by students and all destined for the shelves at the Father English food pantry.
More than 1,500 families, including some American Institute students, depend on the pantry every month, says Admissions Representative Theresa (Terry) Barreto, who helps coordinate the school’s food donation effort. “It’s a critical resource for our community.”
The pantry was named for a Catholic priest who once ran bingo fundraisers at the church. He also distributed food and clothing to people in need. One night, as he was leaving the church after bingo, he was shot and killed by one of the people he’d helped earlier in the day. Since then, the community has supported the pantry to honor his dedication to service.
The Father English pantry is unusual, because it is organized like a grocery store, with each item priced in points. Patrons are given a certain number of points to “spend” based on the size of their family, and they can shop the aisles for the foods they prefer.
“Everyone should have choices,” Terry says. “Some families have medical issues, or allergies. At Father English, they can choose the foods they want.”
Each month, the pantry lets Terry know what types of food they need most, and Terry tells the students. At holidays and before school lets out for summer, there are special drives to ensure the pantry is well stocked for those critical times of year. By the end of the month, the box by the front door is full again.
“One of our core values at American Institute is service, and our students embrace that with their whole hearts,” says Sherry Muse, Assistant Campus President. “This is our community, and we all have something to give. Buying a few extra cans of beans to put in the box is an easy way to help make our community stronger.”