Trenton food pantry faces crisis after fire

TRENTON, N.J. - December 19, 2011

For 30 years Crisis Ministry has been helping people in the Trenton area with hunger and homelessness.

Now the non-profit organization is in need of help itself after a devastating fire destroyed its headquarters.

The fire tore through the food pantry early Friday morning.

The cause is undetermined but the damage was extensive and a huge blow for the many families who depend on this place for help.

Shalanda Wiliams was once a client and now works for Crisis Ministry.

"When I actually walked through the door I could not move," said Williams.

If you look around you can see why.

Less than a week before Christmas the busy food pantry has been turned into a soot-covered mess and all of the food that would have helped feed hungry families this holiday must now be thrown out.

Officials say Crisis Ministry is in crisis itself.

"This is a place where we normally serve 80 households a day with food for people who are threatened with hunger, so it's a disaster for us," said Executive Director Carolyn Biondi.

Crisis Ministry distributes 250 tons of food annually, aiding 3800 households with programs to fight hunger, homelessness and unemployment.

"Our clients depend on us for services, so it is really critical that we get things up and running as quickly as possible," said Co-Chair Thalia Mingo.

"It's very supportive to help children and families maintain proper meals and proper nutrition," said Guy Rivers.

With the cleanup of the burned-out food pantry underway, the focus now is on replenishing the shelves.

Donations of money and food are being accepted at Presbyterian churches in Princeton, Lawrenceville and Trenton.

"Right now there are a number of food drives going on, the community response has been incredible," said Mark Smith, the Food Services Director.

Crisis ministry is busy setting up shop at another building just a couple doors down, hoping to get up and running in the next couple.

Anyone interested in making donations can visit http://www.thecrisisministry.org/

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