When a father and his high school-aged son fled Ukraine, they took whatever they could carry and a binder with their passports and paperwork. They weren’t exactly sure where their journey would take them or how safe their journey would be.
Somehow, they ended up in Nutley.
They didn’t know anyone, and they didn’t have a place to live. They had received assistance from members of the community, and another agency helped them get settled, but they came to The Food Pantry at Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) because they needed food. We were able to enroll them in Food Pantry services with the help of a Nutley resident who spoke their language.”
Because the father and son didn’t have a car, the Food Pantry team delivered their food. We also provided clothing and housewares through our Community Closet program.
They only received food for a couple of months. Fortunately, the father was able to work through the language barrier and find a job, and they were able to be relocated to a different area to be reunited with family members.
“At one point, we were their only source of food,” Joan said. “We frequently see people when they have no place else to turn. Some stay with us for years and we enjoy the relationships we’ve built with them. For others, we give them a boost for a month or two and they’re able to move on to the next step of their journey. That’s okay, too. If people can find additional resources or get to the point where they can get food for themselves, that’s a good thing.”
The Food Pantry is often the entry point for people who need help in other areas of their lives. Once they start to receive food and have their basic needs met, they become open to meeting with case management to find out if they qualify for assistance through social service programs.
Given the level of stress and anxiety that can be caused by hunger and financial distress, we often refer clients to NFSB’s Mental Health Program for counseling and emotional support.
“Once you have enough food to eat, you can start to address the underlying causes,” Joan said. “In this case, the father and son needed help overcoming adversity that’s difficult for most of us to comprehend. Although their time with us was brief, we were grateful to be able to fill important needs and help them find peace, literally.”