GARFIELD, N.J. — The growth of Garfield's Meals with a Mission organization over the last year was met with mixed reactions from member Patty Belenski.
"It's a two-fold notion," Belenski told Daily Voice. "It's wonderful for us to be able to provide for that growth. It's very sad that we've had that much growth though. Every day we're getting calls from people in such need."
The non-profit started in 2013 in a church basement before moving to its current facility at 63 Harrison Ave. The group provides meals for the hungry, with more than 160,000 delivered in 2015.
The 125 volunteers cook every night, a step up from its humble beginnings. Belenski, who handles community relations for Meals with a Mission, met founder Joe Blythe at a Union County shelter and decided to join the mission.
In addition to the volunteers, companies such as Walmart and Stop and Shop donate food. The members then deliver it to the needy throughout Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex counties.
With the winter cold set to finally begin Belenski said she expects even more people in need of meals at shelters.
With its largest year yet completed, Belenski said they have more plans for 2016. Meals with a Mission recently started a culinary program to teach cooking lessons to special needs children from Garfield.
Belenski said she also hopes to work more with mayors and councils in the area to spread awareness and find more people to help.