Hoboken Pet Pantry
Hoboken Pet Pantry

Thanks to Amanda Tennaro, a Hoboken resident, a Girl Scout, and senior at Hudson County’s High Tech School, Hoboken is now home to the mile-long city’s first pet food pantry. The pantry, located at the Hoboken Community Center, but open to Jersey City residents as well, offers an array of essentials for dogs and cats including kibble, canned food, litter, poop bags, wee-wee pads, and (when available) leashes, water bowls, and new toys. Tennaro, who previously earned prizes from her local Girl Scout Troupe for other animal-related projects, in May received the organization’s highest honor, The Gold Award, for her work establishing the program.

“I’d raised awareness about adoption with Liberty Humane Society in middle school, and I wanted to build onto the projects I’d already worked on and … find a way to help prevent animals having to be given up for adoption and put in shelters: I wanted to tackle the issue at the core,” said Tennaro.

The pantry is part of HCC’s multi-faceted pantry program, which on alternate Tuesdays from 9 to 11 a.m. doles out either human food or personal care items to those in need depending on the week. Located at 1301 Washington St. in Hoboken, the center currently serves 175–200 households. Clients need not live in Hoboken to partake. Pet owners can even send proxies to pick up the supplies in their stead if need be.

Jennifer Manzetti is the director of programs at the pantry. Like the Girl Scouts, she, too, was impressed by Tennaro.

“We are so grateful to Amanda for helping the program flourish and helping get the word out,” she said (referring not just to Tennaro’s having founded the pantry but to her ongoing work publicizing the pantry as well).

According to Manzetti, the pantry divvies up large bags of kibble into gallon-size packages both to make the food easier to carry and to make their limited supplies last longer. And it accepts opened bags of dry pet food as well as new bags, said, Tennaro: the perfect use for nourishment that one’s little Fido or precious Fifi might have thumbed his nose at.

Tennaro started working on the project last summer. When asked whether she approached pet food manufacturers for donations, she said, “I sent messages to every email I could find… It was definitely a challenge, but I fought through it and reached out to companies such as Bark Box and Chewy … I reached out on social media, joined the Hoboken Dog Lover’s Group and said if you have any donations, I will literally go and get them from you.”

Bark Box sent a “pretty generously sized” box of dog food, she noted. Manzetti said Hoboken’s Cornerstone Pets contributed a “healthy amount” of merchandise and also credited the center’s community of donors with continually donating supplies.

Jersey City residents can also get in on the act.

Hoboken Community Center operates numerous drop boxes in Hoboken and even one in Jersey City: at Bwe Cafe in Newport. (Of course, donors can also deliver any supplies to the pantry’s Hoboken location.)

Affixed to each drop box is a list of the pantry’s needs. The center makes sure to retrieve the supplies at least once a week, Manzetti said.

Jersey City residents can also donate food to Liberty Humane Society, which is located across from the Liberty Science Center and “gives out tons of food,” according to board member Andy Siegel.

For her part, Tennaro may have realized her goal but come September she will em-bark (pun intended) on a new ambition: becoming a physician’s assistant and enter a six-year undergraduate-to-graduate degree program at Seton Hall University in Newark.

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.