The Visitation Relief Center, shuttered since October over a lack of permits and inspections at its Mantoloking Road location, is planning to reopen at a vacant storefront in a Brick shopping center.
“We are hoping to reopen soon after the new year,” said Fr. Edward Blanchett, pastor of the Visitation Roman Catholic Church. “We’ve been working with the township trying to move the [certificate of occupancy] process through as quickly as is reasonable.”
The relief center’s new location will be in the Laurel Square shopping center, which currently houses a K-Mart store and previously was home to a Pathmark supermarket. The center is moving to a vacant storefront in the shopping center that used to house Nick Catone’s MMA & Fitness.
A permit to occupy the 5,266 square foot space was issued Wednesday, said Daniel Newman, township construction official.
“The relief center includes a mixed use of business offices and mercantile space,” Newman said, in an e-mail. “The mercantile area will include a food pantry while office space will be used to provide other services.”
Blanchett said the relief center, when reopened, will operate as a supermarket-style food pantry to tackle long-term food insecurity issues in the community.
“One of the things the VRC is doing is re-examining a lot of their activities,” he said. “It first dealt with solving the immediate problems after Sandy, and now it’s positioning itself to provide long-term aid to the community. One of those things would be the food pantry.”
Ultimately, Blanchett said, the goal of the VRC is move back into its original building at 725 Mantoloking Road, adjacent to the church. In the mean time, the VRC’s new home will allow the nonprofit agency to serve its clients, most of whom have been referred to other agencies since the center closed, or have received help from the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“A lot of those groups just don’t have the resources the VRC had,” said Blanchett.