This year CUMAC has been taking steps to ensure that we’re doing everything in our power to keep our neighbors healthy and hunger-free. As part of this process, and for the first time, our staff held focus group sessions with our clients this summer. The sessions, which were hold over the course of several weeks, provided some valuable insight, allowing our team to better understand the needs of our community and the challenges our clients face. The focus groups also resulted in some great suggestions about our pantry process. With this feedback in mind, our team is already taking steps to bolster our grocery bags, adding items that our clients find most helpful. We’re also improving our pantry layout to streamline our food distribution process. Overall feedback was positive from the sessions, and many of our clients stated that our pantry allows them to eat healthy on a regular basis, something that is greatly appreciated.
Along with changes in our pantry process, our team is using feedback from our focus groups in other ways. With the help of our community partners, we’re continuing to create more opportunities to educate and empower our clients throughout the year. Recently, CUMAC teamed up with Summit Medical Group Foundation to provide free health screenings in our pantry. We had our first health screening day this month and it was a huge success! Clients and community members had the chance to visit our pantry to have glucose levels, BMI, and blood pressure checked for free. For many of those in attendance, it was the first time they had received a screening in years. In the coming months we’ll be working with Summit Medical to hold more screenings and health initiatives.
Another way CUMAC is utilizing client feedback and encouraging healthier living is through fresh food available in our pantry. As you already know, CUMAC gives out fresh fruits and vegetables every day. But thanks to our amazing partners, we’re providing more produce than ever, giving our clients the opportunity to have a healthier, balanced diet throughout the month, regardless of their income or location. To take this a step further, CUMAC is partnering with ShopRite of Passaic and Passaic County Community College to show our clients different ways they can use the produce shared in our pantry. Through simple recipes and cooking demonstrations featuring these items, clients are learning more about everything we serve. Just the other day, resident Shop Rite dietitian, Andrea Reina, made fresh pico de gallo with our clients to give them a simple way to use the large haul of tomatoes and peppers that were recently donated. Working with these groups has been a wonderful experience so far and we’re thrilled to see that it’s breaking down barriers and making our clients more comfortable trying new types of fresh food. With an ever-changing lineup of produce in our pantry, it’s wonderful to have partners that can make recommendations and share their expertise.
As we continue to serve our community in new and exciting ways, friends like you make it all possible. Thank you for helping us feed people & change lives. Together we’re building a healthier community for all.