CUMAC feeds people and changes lives. It works to alleviate hunger and its root causes for those in need in Paterson, Passaic County and northern New Jersey.
CUMAC Past to Present
CUMAC has been serving the community for over 30 years. It began in the late 1970s when then Paterson school teacher, Hugh Dunlop recruited his church congregation to collect food for his obviously ailing students. As they met that need, a greater need in the city of Paterson became obvious, and a small pantry was born to provide emergency food to the local community. In 1985, CUMAC was incorporated as the Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community Ecumenically Concerned Helping Others (CUMAC/ECHO) – a name meant to show that, while we are an urban mission of the United Methodist Church, we serve all people in need without discrimination.
Though we recently shortened our public name to just CUMAC–the name the community knows us by–we have grown physically, financially and organizationally in our 30-plus years of operation. Physically, we began in a borrowed church closet and now own our 28,000 square foot facility in downtown Paterson; financially, we expanded our meager start-up budget thirty-fold; and organizationally we developed from a single-purpose, volunteer run group into a multi-service agency with a staff of 20 and hundreds of volunteers donating thousands of hours of work annually.
Our Pantry now serves over 3,400 people monthly, and we have several supplementary programs addressing the root causes of hunger. Our Depot secures, transports, warehouses and distributes over 2 million pounds of food annually to partner feeding programs. Our Community Closet provides disaster relief (clothing and household items) to victims of house fire, domestic violence, flooding or other natural disaster. Secondary stock is sold in our Thrift Shop to build self-sufficiency in the community and provide critical cash flow in support of our programs. Our Pathways to Work program provides training in basic employment protocols and specific skills including warehousing, retail sales or customer service in order to help individuals enter or re-enter the workforce. Half of our current staff was hired directly from this program. CUMAC's Place of Promise is a permanent supportive housing program which endeavors to serve men and women with disabilities who are chronically homeless. CUMAC recently formed the Community Food Coalition (CFC), a collection of over 25 pantries and agencies committed to serving those in need in Passaic County and surrounding areas. Under CUMAC’s leadership, the CFC addresses hunger-related issues, manages shared food resources and connects New Jersey residents with feeding programs that will best fit their needs. CUMAC's seasonal projects also provide school supplies, holiday gifts and other items to close to 2,000 area youth. In addition to these critical programs, CUMAC now takes an increasingly prominent role in advocacy efforts which address the root causes of hunger.