Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the urgency of creating the Beloved Community. Today, as we move into this New Year together, and on this day especially – the observance of Dr. King’s legacy of community service and care – I hope this message finds you and all the loved ones in your community healthy and strong.
Last year was undeniably a year for the record books!
Together, we faced the greatest food-insecurity and unemployment crisis to hit our nation in a century. Thanks to our remarkable donors, partners, supporters and friends we were able to increase our capacity, strengthen our reach and feed South Jersey during what was a brutal year for many.
Before South Jersey was hit by COVID, the region, as well as the entire State of New Jersey, had one of the lowest poverty rates in the nation, according to data from the U.S. Census. About a tenth of the population lived below the poverty line, a lower share than the nation as a whole and far better than the vast majority of other states.
However, due to the economic punch of COVID, the experience of poverty encompassed more South Jersey households – building upon the systemic poverty that already posted challenges to tens of thousands trying to survive in one of the highest cost of income states in the nation. Concentrated poverty has been on the rise in New Jersey in the last two decades, with COVID accelerating this threat to food security.
Our intention for 2021 is to continue expanding our partnering initiatives to further grow our network of food distribution, as well as foster initiatives that provide support to fight systemic poverty. Only through the addressment and response to the plight of systemic poverty will we enable and empower a food-secure South Jersey.
As 2021 comes into focus, we are galvanized as an organization to shorten the line! What do I mean? As we continue to focus our efforts on expanding and strengthening our capacity, we are focused on three key mission objectives to meet and exceed our region’s need for food.
Since the start of the our COVID-19 emergency food response last year, thousands upon thousands of our neighbors waiting in line for food throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties have presented a sobering and deeply troubling view of the magnitude of the hunger crisis that threatens us all.
Together, forever inspired by the belief in building and sustaining the Beloved Community that Dr. King’s legacy still drives us towards, we will work to bring South Jersey’s hunger crisis to an end.
Together, we can share our vision for a food-secure South Jersey.
President & CEO, Food Bank of South Jersey
You can commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by helping to feed our South Jersey community. Make a donation online to Stuff the Bus now until Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.