Montville Kiwanians and members of the Key Club will be busy this week preparing Thanksgiving food baskets for 50 families who regularly use the Montville Kiwanis Food Pantry.
They also will prepare the baskets—featuring a gift card for a turkey or ham, plus fixings—for other families in town that have been identified as needing assistance.
Giving Turkey Day food to families in need is an annual tradition for Montville Kiwanis, but this is the first year Thanksgiving packages are being prepared for clients of the food pantry, which opened a year-and-a-half ago, said Joe O'Dowd, the pantry's chairman.
O'Dowd said the number of clients has more than doubled from a year ago, which he said doesn't surprise him given the economy.
Housed in a room at the on Whitehall Road next to the Towaco firehouse, the food pantry opened in April 2010 amid concerns that a food pantry in another town that served Montville residents was closing.
The number of clients at the Montville pantry "started at zero," O'Dowd said. "It's been going up, naturally. This time last year, there was less than half that. Unfortunately, as the recession continues, it's only going to go up."
The Key Club has a food drive going at the high school, and volunteers plan to distribute the Thanksgiving packages on Saturday.
The pantry operates from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. To apply to the pantry for food donations, pick up an application at the Montville Town Hall front desk, many of the area churches or the Montville library.
For information on specific non-perishable food donations needed at any time, email Linda Gannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Joe O'Dowd at 973-227-8565.