SNJDC’s The Chronicle: Transporting Food, Nutrition and Hope

Published by The Chronicle: A Southern New Jersey Development Council Publication

Transporting Food, Nutrition and Hope

The Food Bank of South Jersey

With seven forklifts, 13 electric pallet jacks, a tractor-trailer and three refrigerated trucks, this could be any large company warehouse in South Jersey. This 40,000 square-foot facility also has the capacity to hold more than 2.22 million pounds of inventory.

The difference? Shipments from this warehouse in Pennsauken, run by the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ), deliver hope every day to thousands of South Jersey residents. As the largest hunger-relief organization in South Jersey, food is distributed every day through mobile truck distributions, pop-up pantries, and a food distribution network of more than 200 partner agencies covering a service area of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties.

During 2020, with COVID-19 bringing school closures, stay-at-home orders, record-breaking unemployment and rising poverty, FBSJ distributed more than 22.5 million pounds of food – the equivalent of over 18.7 million meals. At the height of the pandemic, FBSJ served over 95,000 food-insecure South Jersey residents each month, including the distribution of nearly one million nutritious breakfasts and lunches to South Jersey’s food-insecure children.

Like any supplier in the current environment, there are supply chain issues to deal with and challenges in meeting the need of the region where one in every seven people and one in every five children live with food insecurity.

“Freight costs have doubled in the past six months and food shortages are being reported by manufacturers who are also dealing with labor shortages,” said Charles Hosier, Chief Operating Officer of the Food Bank of South Jersey. “But we have planned ahead and will work diligently to meet the need of our residents like we did during the height of the pandemic in 2020.”

Charles Hosier

Chief Operating Officer, Food Bank of South Jersey

A number of new developments in the warehouse will help FBSJ reach even more residents. With the assistance of pandemic relief funds, the Pennsauken facility is doubling its freezer capacity. In 2020, FBSJ had to refuse or divert more than three million pounds of donations because of refrigerator space issues.

The new freezer will allow FBSJ to connect with more food donors and better support its partner agencies with much sought-after refrigerated food items. In addition, the Food Bank coordinated 37 grants to local food pantries that assisted them in expanding their capacity and distribution capabilities.

FBSJ also recently entered the next generation of industrial equipment with a new lithium battery operated pallet jack, presenting a more ecologically friendly approach to its logistics. One thing that isn’t new is the need that the Food Bank of South Jersey sees in the region. Those trucks will continue to carry millions of pounds of food each month to communities from Mount Holly to Glassboro, from Willingboro to Carneys Point and beyond, to reach the thousands of food-insecure people relying on FBSJ for life-sustaining food resources.

Marking its 36th year in 2021, along with providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey, FBSJ also provides nutrition education and cooking courses and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives. To learn more, visit foodbanksj.org. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn, follow the Food Bank of South Jersey @foodbankSJ.