The Food Brigade Inc. is a New Jersey nonprofit corporation. Our mission is to provide food, in the form of both prepared meals and fresh and packaged foods, to local families and individuals dealing with hunger and food insecurity. We perform our mission through the use of volunteers who assist with food acquisition, transport, preparation, distribution, and delivery.
In furtherance of our mission, we distribute boxes of food (which may include both produce and dairy, such as boxes from the USDA’s "Farmers to Families" program) from outdoor staging areas. An example of a typical recent operation: families in need drive through our staging area, where their cars are loaded with food boxes. Simultaneously, food boxes are loaded into the vehicles of our volunteers, who then deliver the food directly to those who are unable to travel to our distribution points, as well as to other local pantries and food relief organizations.
Origins of The Food Brigade
The roots of The Food Brigade trace back almost 30 years. Co-Founder Carmine DeMarco first became active as a volunteer in feeding and housing the homeless in the early 1990s. A few years later, Karen Benevento DeMarco joined him, and the pair became periodic coordinators at a shelter for homeless families in Englewood, New Jersey. After the shelter closed, they continued volunteering for that organization by periodically preparing and serving meals at the Bergen County Shelter in Hackensack, and serving as overnight hosts at satellite shelters.
During a family health crisis in 2017, the DeMarcos were fortunate to have a caring friend who organized a "meal train", whereby their neighbors banded together to provide nightly meals for the family to lessen the strain upon them. Afterward, and wanting to "pay it forward", the DeMarcos took their friend's idea and formed the Dumont Meal Brigade, coordinating volunteers to provide home-cooked meals to local families who were going through loss of employment, catastrophic illness or injury, or other personal struggles.
In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding lock-down, Karen DeMarco individually began cooking meals for community members in need and senior citizens on a fixed income. The DeMarcos also recruited and coordinated volunteers to provide dinner to the homeless through the Walk-In Dinner Program in Hackensack multiple times. Wishing to expand the scope of their service to the hungry and food insecure, the DeMarcos formed The Food Brigade Inc. as a public charity. The scale of the group's food-relief efforts expanded dramatically with the assistance of Trustee Ifraz Ilyas, who first introduced the DeMarcos to large-scale bulk distribution of produce and dairy, and Trustee Elaine Wing, who along with her congregation provided a staging area for The Food Brigade's operations.
* NOTICE RE. DEDUCTIBILITY OF YOUR DONATION: The Food Brigade Inc. is a nonprofit corporation of the State of New Jersey and a registered tax-exempt charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donors seeking a tax deduction will receive a timely acknowledgment letter from The Food Brigade Inc.