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2021 Spring Newsletter

A TASTE OF COMPASSION

A publication of the Food Bank of South Jersey

Help feed South Jersey families in need.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO

Feeding Our Future: Together, We Serve

As I write this message to you today, the news that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the A5405 bill, which will direct $10 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, has just been made public. This funding will be distributed to seven New Jersey food banks in order to continue providing families with food assistance during the pandemic. By now you may have heard of the sobering state of child food insecurity in our region, with more than 26,000 additional children living with the daily threat of hunger in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties, due to the impact of COVID.

For this reason, we praise Governor Murphy’s decision to move forward with this vital legislation. So that we may feed our communities – nourish our children – and feed the future of South Jersey.

We are committed to our strategic initiatives including expanding procurement of food, developing resources to align with the growth of hunger-relief programs, becoming an official NJ SNAP Outreach vendor to educate, facilitate and connect eligible recipients with SNAP benefits and doing all we can to ensure no child lives in a home devoid of food.

Together, we can feed our future. We are grateful for the support of this new legislation, and we are grateful for the support of all who keep in mind the hunger in our community, particularly the hunger that impacts our children.

Yours in service,

Fred C. Wasiak
President & CEO

CHILD FOOD INSECURITY: OUR YOUTH HUNGER CRISIS

Do you know if the child living across the street has eaten breakfast today? Do you know if the children you see out running errands with their mothers go home to empty refrigerators and sparse dinners? Are you aware that child food insecurity, right now, in South Jersey is at an unmatched crisis for the region?

The truth is, right now, there are too many hungry children living in South Jersey. In fact, shockingly, more than 26,500
children have joined the ranks of food insecure throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties. Living in homes with parents overwhelmed with the reality of needing to rely on food assistance for the first time, these children are the most vulnerable victims of COVID.

They are often isolated. They are taking classes on computers, staring at screens instead of skies, and, despite best efforts of their parents and guardians, they are likewise feeling the burden of a life disrupted.

WHEN THE ECONOMY OF A HOUSEHOLD CRUMBLES, CHILDREN FEEL IT.
Last year, a report by Feeding America found that the number of food-insecure children could escalate to 18 million nationwide due to the COVID pandemic. The highest total ever reported by the USDA in the 25 years that it has been measuring food insecurity was 17.2 million in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession. In South Jersey, our food-insecure youth hunger population mirrors the stark overview of Feeding America – with an escalating hunger ratio across all points of our region. 

Currently, the child food-insecure population in the four counties served by the Food Bank of South Jersey is over 62,600 children. These children range from first graders in Mount Holly to high schoolers in Cherry Hill, from toddlers in Glassboro to middle schoolers in Salem. On average, 1 in every 5 children living in South Jersey is now food insecure. The youth hunger ratio is even higher in Camden and Salem counties, with an average of 1 in every 4 living in a food-insecure household. 

NEW JERSEY YOUTH HUNGER RATIO
In response to the pandemic, the Food Bank of South Jersey distributed over one million children’s meals during 2020 – up more than 700,000 children’s meals distributed during 2019 – and greatly accelerated child feeding services to combat the rise in youth hunger. The Food Bank’s elevation in child feeding programs and response to the accelerated need for food continues throughout South Jersey at this time – as 2021 continues to be a year of youth hunger in the wake of the pandemic. 

How many kids are HUNGRY in South Jersey?

NOURISHING OUR CHILDREN: BODIES, MINDS AND DREAMS

At a time when child food insecurity is at a crisis peak in South Jersey, the Food Bank of South Jersey and its partners, supporters and friends are working to bring food, nutrition awareness and hope to the little ones who will one day lead South Jersey.

smiles-dreams

FEEDING SMILES & DREAMS: BookSmiles Book Bank of Cherry Hill has donated more than 22,500 children’s books so far this year to the Food Bank of South Jersey, spreading book wealth to regional book deserts to lay the groundwork for academic success and provide smiles to children of all ages.

COOKING FOR KIDS: From the fun and interactive Two Bite Club to Cooking Matters for Kids, Youth Nutrition Outreach Training (YNOT), A Children’s Taste of African Heritage and more, the Health & Wellness team at the Food Bank of South Jersey makes eating healthy fun!

HUNGRY MINDS FRIENDSHIP: Jeff and Debbie Hayman, founders of Hungry Minds, Inc., presented a gift of $4,000. With a shared dedication to feeding South Jersey’s school children in need, Hungry Minds brought friendship, partnership and support to Food Bank child feeding programs. 

OPERATION WARM:  Operation Warm products, coats and shoes, were distributed to several Food Bank agency partners who work directly with children. In total, 354 coats and 240 pairs of shoes were distributed to partner agencies for distribution to children in need throughout the region.

A Message from Gerald

April was Volunteer Appreciation month and although we appreciate all of our volunteers and the work they do with us during the year, April give us a special opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of our volunteer force.

They are remarkable people. Diverse. Giving. Selfless. Dedicated. Strong. People from every one of our four counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem. People of all ages, from grandparents to students.

Last year, COVID impacted every area of our operations and as the organization pivoted to meet escalating needs for food assistance, it was our volunteer force who pivoted with us, rose to the call of a true hunger crisis, and supported us in the ways that they could, given we were living in a socially distanced world.

While we could not host corporate, community, colleges or university and individual groups in our Pennsauken headquarters for robust volunteer experiences, as was life before COVID, we directed our efforts and volunteer teams outward to supporting the increase in Hope Mobile, Pop-Up, and community food distributions throughout the year. Our volunteers, more than ever, stood with us in fields, parking lots and open spaces – rain or shine – serving with us to serve South Jersey. Our volunteers, truly serving WITH the Food Bank, rather than exclusively AT the Food Bank, became a heroic part of the greatest hunger-relief effort to directly impact South Jersey since the Great Depression.

Our volunteers were brave. They were tireless. They were heroes.

April afforded us the opportunity to truly express our gratitude to our volunteer force. Please know, that each and every hour of each and every day of each and every month – we are grateful for YOU!

With thanks to all our volunteer heroes,

Manager of Volunteer Services, Food Bank of South Jersey