Home COVID-19 All About the Hoboken Community Center + Food Pantry and How You Can Help

All About the Hoboken Community Center + Food Pantry and How You Can Help

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are looking for ways to help their community. Here in Hoboken, however, one organization has been helping the community for years, with or without a pandemic. The Hoboken Community Center {HCC} is one of the oldest public service agencies in the city. We were able to chat with HCC Board Members Juan Melli and Toni Tomarazzo to learn more about the work being done and how residents can get involved, even from afar.

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{Photo credit: The Hoboken Community Center via Facebook}

About HCC

The Hoboken Community Center has a rich history and, for years, has been supporting low-income and food-insecure men in Hoboken. Melli shared more about what the HCC has been doing for the past seven years. 

In December 2013, a new, expanded housing program was financed through tax credits and local, county and state programs and reopened with 96 single room occupancy apartments,” he explained. Because the needs of the community have grown, the HCC began developing a plan to rehabilitate the recreational building on 13th and Washington Streets. 

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“The facility – formerly the Hoboken North Hudson YMCA — has been closed since 2010 when market economics prevailed and forced the recreational programs to shut down. The rehabilitation proposal is almost complete and as soon as possible, the information will be presented to the Mayor and City Council and Hoboken residents for comment,” says Melli “The preliminary plans call for a partnership with the most venerable public service organizations in the City, and the building design will return the historic pool and gym and add additional amenities. This project will establish a state-of-the-art community center designed to meet the recreational, cultural, and educational needs of Hoboken residents — including programs and space for children, teens, families, young adults, and seniors.”

How the HCC is Helping During COVID-19

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{Photo credit: @hobokencommunitycenter}

As plans develop for the future, the HCC is heavily focused on the increased needs of the community as we face COVID-19. Melli and Tomarazzo explained that while food insecurity has always existed among many in Hoboken, COVID-19 has resulted in families from all backgrounds experiencing this insecurity as well—in many cases, this is a new situation. 

“Food insecurity has always existed among many individuals and families in Hoboken, and the COVID-19 crisis resulted in families and individuals from many backgrounds finding themselves in the unfamiliar situation of needing assistance,” said the Board Members. 

An integral part of the Hoboken Community Center is the Hoboken Food Pantry {HFP}. Started in fall 2019, the Hoboken Food Pantry was born out of the increased need for food among residents. Today, it serves the community in a capacity never imagined. “After only six weeks of starting to identify and design programs to assist seniors throughout Hoboken, the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us and the HFP shifted immediately to scale the new operation to prepare to meet the growing food insecurity demands in Hoboken.”

Local Help

The Hoboken Community Center is fortunate to have a group of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain and improve this important community initiative. Toni and Juan shared some of the items needed most. 

“The HFP collects primarily non-perishable food items. The need is greatest for canned proteins such as tuna fish, Spam, sardines, and Vienna Sausage. Hearty canned stews, chili, and low sodium soup are also requested. Just like many families in Hoboken, the HFP is asking for sanitizing products like Lysol or Clorox wipes, liquid soap, and disinfectant spray. Any donations of these items are greatly appreciated,” they explained.

Through the generosity of residents and city organizations, the HFP has been able to fulfill needs during this trying time. “The ability of the HFP to serve the Hoboken community is due to the unwavering support provided by many individuals and organizations in our community,” shared Melli and Tomarazzo.  

They went on to share more on the support the HFP has received during this time. “Another certain sign of the sense of community that makes Hoboken such a wonderful place to live, work or go to school is the way that so many organizations are working together towards one common goal to benefit our neighbors. The HFP is privileged to receive support from organizations like the Hoboken Housing Authority Board and staff, FLAG — who offered to conduct fundraising on behalf of the HFP, the Front Steps Project that has raised thousands of dollars on behalf of the HFP and the Mayor and City Council who contribute their own personal donations and sweat equity to move the HFP forward,” they explained.

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How You Can Help

Even during this challenging time, many residents are looking to assist where needed. To safely support the Hoboken Food Pantry, Board Members are asking that residents consider both monetary and physical donations. A wish list can be found via Amazon Wishlist. and generous donors have also used retailers such as Target, Jet, and Wal-mart for donations of non-perishable food items and cleaning products. 

Additionally, monetary donations can be given through the donation page on the HCC site here. In an effort to maintain social distancing and keep all residents safe, the HCC is not accepting walk-up donations at this time. Instead, please ship all donations directly to the HCC at 1301 Washington Street, Hoboken. The items will be packaged and distributed directly to families in need. 

To volunteer, sign up for shifts through the Charity Quest app.


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