This is the time of year when food pantries are beginning to see a sharp increase in their distribution numbers, said Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard Coordinator Dottie Cianci.

"It's getting colder outside, the holidays are coming and the summer jobs have ended," Cianci said. "It's difficult for people to find work in the offseason."

Armed with this information and a desire to help, some Ocean City organizations and businesses have started hosting their own food and clothing drives.

Ocean City chiropractor Matthew Kemenosh and his staff are holding their second annual food and clothing collection at their office - 300 Third St., Ocean City. Ocean City Boy Scout Troop 32 will be collecting non-perishable food items during Thursday's Halloween parade and last month, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority joined with the city to host a citywide fall food collection to benefit the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard. The weeklong fall food drive resulted in the collection of 3,631 pounds of food, more than twice the amount collected last year.

Cianci said the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard has to put a limit on how often a food allotment can be picked up - every 30 days - and how much food is in each allotment. The Cupboard simply doesn't have enough stock to give more, she said.

"We're very grateful for whatever little bit we get, and every little bit helps," Cianci said.

Kemenosh said he decided to hold a food and clothing drive at his office after he met a family in need while at a sports game with his son.

"I was sitting on the sidelines, and I overheard this woman saying she was drinking Ensure drinks to get her nutrition so that her three kids could eat regular food," Kemenosh said. He said her kids were there at the field with her that day and seeing the family really brought it home.

"I realized right there that we need to do something," Kemenosh said.

He said the purpose of his drive is to alleviate some of the strain on families in need and to generate awareness of the issue.

"People are struggling, and the food pantries don't have enough to go around," Kemenosh said.

The donations collected by his office will benefit the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and its thrift shop, Kathleen's Closet. All proceeds from the thrift shop sales are used to purchase bulk food items for the food bank.

Cianci said the Ocean City Ecumenical Council also operates a free clothing distribution center for the needy. Its coordinator, Ann Gallagher, said they are in desperate need of gently used jackets and winter coats - particularly children's sizes - as well as comforters and blankets.

"It's been a very hard couple of years with the economy," Gallagher said.

Contact Elisa Lala:


How to help

Bring non-perishables food items to the Halloween parade: Ocean City Boy Scouts Troop 32 will be collecting non-perishable food items to benefit the city's Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard during the city's Halloween parade,Thursday, Oct. 25, starting at 7:15 p.m. The parade route runs from Sixth to 11th streets down Asbury Ave. Call Assistant Scoutmaster Scott Ruch at 609-399-7391.

Make a monetary donation or drop off: Donations for the Ocean City Ecumenical Council missions can be mailed to Post Office Box 1001, Ocean City, NJ.

Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard is located inside St. Peter's United Methodist Church, 501 E. Eighth St., Ocean City. Hours of operation: 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Ocean City Ecumenical Council Clothes Closet, 555 West Ave., Ocean City. Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday.

Kemenosh Chiropractor Center, 300 Third St., Ocean City. If the office is closed, items can be left in a box or bag outside the door.

Mark your calendar: The Ocean City Post Service will host a citywide food collection pick-up for the Ocean City Ecumenical Council Food Cupboard Saturday, Dec. 8. Residents are bring asked to place food donation in a bag next to their mail boxes.