FINDING FOOD… FILLING LIVES
In 2022, the Food Bank of South Jersey delivered more than 18 MILLION POUNDS of food to our neighbors. That’s about 1.5 million pounds of goods leaving FBSJ’s care each month and heading out into Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties. Close to 10,000 TONS of food for senior food boxes, Summer Meals for students, and everyday necessities for families left our warehouse in Pennsauken and went out into our 58 communities. And it all adds up to this: Last year, the Food Bank distributed a LOT of food.
But where does it all come from?
FBSJ’s food sourcing team and a truckload (well, several, actually) of other partners.
Local, regional, and national government entities; community groups; large and small retail stores; schools and youth organizations; neighboring businesses; farming co-ops; and the list goes on. Ensuring our neighbors won’t go to bed hungry is a tall order, but our team is ready to fill it.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that a lot of the food we distribute was donated to us. What may be surprising, however, is
that last year we received about 250,000 pounds of high-quality food from HelloFresh and 1.5 million pounds from Target. Or that we work with groups like Farmers Against Hunger, Hunters Helping the Hungry, and local butchers to get donated produce and protein to agency partners. Or that once a week we receive a delivery of ready-to-eat meals and goods from Starbucks to be distributed to South Jersey residents in need.
There are also times when a pallet of food gets rejected from a store, even though it is in great condition, and FBSJ is able to step in. Thanks to incredible relationships throughout our communities, the Food Bank can ensure that food makes its way to our refrigerated
space or to the shelf at one of our pantries.
Of course, we also take in what you might picture when you think of donated food, such as boxes of cereal from a local school or canned goods from a Boy Scouts food drive. In 2022, we received 178,788 pounds of non-perishable food from the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger event, the largest one-day, nationwide food drive.
But even with all our wonderful local and national partners, which are too many to list here, the Food Bank is purchasing more food than ever before. In 2022, we saw a 20-percent jump in pounds distributed from pre-pandemic times (2019), due to the increased need in our
communities. More food-insecure neighbors means more food needs to be acquired, whether it’s from distributors like Seashore Fruit & Produce or working with local farms and farmers.
Luckily, we are often able to utilize economies of scale to aid us in purchasing food for our agency partners and direct distributions. For example, we purchase frozen and shelf-stable foods almost exclusively by the truck load, and fresh items are bought weekly by the pallet. Because of our purchasing power, we can turn $1 into three meals for our neighbors.
United States Department of Agriculture
Each year, the United States Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s food distribution programs provide millions of pounds of food items to agencies and feeding programs throughout the state. Beef and chicken, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy, grains, and other proteins are available through programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which was designed to distribute federally donated food to eligible neighbors in need. Many of our pantry partners have TEFAP food available for those who qualify. Otherwise, there’s usually other food items to choose from, which are purchased by the Food Bank or donated from another source.
We Take Food Seriously
Much more time could spend diving into the world of food sourcing. There is a intricate dance performed in order to provide food to
more than 120,000 individuals each month. Lots of time, energy, logistics, cooperation, and everything in between goes toward ensuring we can become a more sustainable and food-secure South Jersey.