Hunger in South Jersey
Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem Counties are home to 173,140 food insecure people, or 13.2% of the population. More than 50,000 of them are children under the age of 18. In New Jersey, where the average meal costs $2.67, many families and individuals cannot afford to eat nutritiously on a regular basis.
Hunger is associated with numerous problems—among them are obesity, diabetes, chronic diseases like asthma, higher levels of depression, diminished work productivity, poor concentration, etc. For children who experience hunger, these problems are compounded by stunted development of the brain that can lead to learning disabilities, low academic achievement, behavior problems, sudden mood changes, school absenteeism, hyperactivity, and greater instances of aggression & bullying.
Click here to view an interactive hunger map
Reports supporting the Food Bank of South Jersey's Healthy Living Initiative
Cooking Matters is a national nutrition education program by Share Our Strength and administered locally by the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Healthy Living Initiative that teaches families how to make healthy and budget-wise food choices.
Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters® Report
The Food Bank of South Jersey enlisted the help from the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden to assess how effective the HLI has been in carrying out the FBSJ’s mission to ensure nutritional sustainability in communities throughout South Jersey.
Click to read the report by The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, Rutgers-Camden
How many clients receive emergency food from the FBSJ?
Food Bank of South Jersey has been hard at work at responding to millions of food requests every year. According to the most recent Feeding America data:,
- 36% of the members of households are children under 18 years old.
- 30% of the members of households are children age 0 to 5 years.
- 10% of the members of households are elderly.
- 39% of households include at least one employed adult.
- 73% have incomes below the federal poverty level during the previous month.
- 3% are homeless.
The Difficult Choice
- 40% of clients served by The Food Bank of South Jersey report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel
- 36% had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage
- 34% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care
In 2013 the Food Bank of South Jersey distributed over 10 million pounds of food, responding to more than 1 million requests for food. Much of this food was distributed through the more than 200 partners (soup kitchens, food pantries, rescues and homeless shelters) as well as our direct services programs that target the most fragile and vulnerable groups – children and the elderly.
In addition to our food distribution efforts, nutrition education is a critical part of our mission. Our Cooking Matters classes, which are part of our Healthy Living Initiative, use hands-on, interactive cooking classes to teach young and old the medical and health advantages of a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods.
Outreach services to help determine food stamp eligibility are part of our SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) services. In our four county service area, about 45% of hungry people in need of food do not receive food stamp benefits.
The Food Bank of South Jersey is an important source of food for charitable feeding programs, accounting for 75% of the food used by pantries, 57% of the food used by soup kitchens, and 48% of food needed at homeless shelters. In many cases, we are the last hope for these organizations and, without our support, many of these programs to help the hungry would shut down.
In 2012, Feeding America completed a nationwide study of hunger in the United States. Called “Map the Meal,” this study examined the food insecure populations in the country along with income, age and food stamp eligibility.