We are all better when we are all one. This sentiment took unprecedented action this year as we, the South Jersey community, rallied with a strength and resilience strong enough to take on a global pandemic, and compassionate enough to feed the most food-vulnerable of our neighbors.
There is power in a community united – a sense of “oneness” that joins people together. It is a power that South Jersey has displayed throughout its reaction to the COVID-19 crisis.
It is a power that fueled the capacity of the Food Bank of South Jersey. It is a power derived from many diverse people working together – giving together – for the betterment of all.
It is the power of one.
Every donor who has helped the Food Bank of South Jersey since its COVID-19 hunger-relief response began in March of this year has played a tremendous role in sustaining tens of thousands of people every day.
More than 11.9 million pounds of food – equating to nearly 10 million meals – have been distributed throughout South Jersey, with more than 69,000 emergency food boxes distributed since March alone. Since March, there have been more than 90 Hope Mobile food distributions, as our 203 agencies additionally worked tirelessly to serve a burgeoning population in need of food. In feeding South Jersey’s children during this time, more than 600,000 breakfasts and lunches were given to our region’s little ones.
None of this would have been possible without the power of the individual donor – supporting FBSJ’s mission to feed South Jersey by giving $1 to equal 3 meals.
How did the individual donor help so greatly? Virtual food drives, virtual marathons, pandemic family portraits were just some of the creative ways individuals raised funds to feed South Jersey. There were donations for haircuts, birthday fund drives, campaigns in tribute to loved ones – so many great efforts, created by men, women and children inspired to help their neighbors in need.
Every $1 equals 3 meals. So many first-time individual donors gave so much this year.
For South Jersey, the disruption of COVID-19 hit every home. Unemployment. Financial crisis. Socio-economic inequities. Transportation obstacles, crippling access to healthy and nutritious food. Thankfully, donors rallied – long-time supporters and first-time donors. Thanks to the power of FBSJ’s donor community, many people were fed – and South Jersey was truly one.
I am so thankful for this Harvest Season – and for all of you. Though last year at this time, my message spoke of the colors of autumn and the hope that fills our hearts this time of year as the holidays quickly approach, this Harvest Season brings with it even greater spirits of hope.
This year has been one for the record books – in every way. Strength and resilience were needed in South Jersey in ways unimaginable this time last year – and we all rose to the occasion as a community abundant with compassion.
Indeed, 2020 brought with it milestones – historic and all encompassing. It tested the limits of our capacity to serve, and drove us to deploy organizational and operational strategies to feed South Jersey in ways never before realized. More people needed us. More food was required to keep South Jersey strong. More work needed to be done to make sure hunger did not surge in our community.
For the first time in its 35-year history, the Food Bank of South Jersey was required to dig deeper than ever to harvest hope for South Jersey. And, thanks to so many of you – our friends, supporters, partners, volunteers and donors – we dug deep, we expanded capacity, we celebrated the big triumphs and the little victories. We fed and are continuing to feed more than 95,000 people every month.
This Harvest Season, much like this time last year, I know we will continue to explore new avenues and pathways to deliver hope to our South Jersey neighbors in need. I look forward to another year of being deeply inspired by all that I see at the Food Bank of South Jersey – knowing we can continue to be more and better together.
Wishing you a Harvest Season of love, hope and strength,
Fred C. Wasiak
President & CEO