As Published in NJ.com | By Community Bulletin | Updated on June 20, 2017 at 3:10 PM Posted on June 20, 2017 at 3:09 PM
Few things get school children as excited as the prospect of summer vacation, but that time off from school can also mean being away from the availability of free or low-cost breakfasts and lunches. It is estimated that there are 57,000 children in southern New Jersey who lack access to adequate food — are food insecure — and need assistance. Thanks in part to a $5,000 grant from the Investors Foundation, the Food Bank of South Jersey is expanding its summer meal program to provide these children with the nutritious meals they need and deserve.
The Food Bank of South Jersey applied for the grant from the Investors Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations that enrich the diverse communities served by Investors Bank.
According to Lavinia Awosanya, director of Strategic Partnerships for the Food Bank of South Jersey, the Summer Meals program provides food-insecure children with breakfast, lunch and snacks for 10 weeks during the summer. “Growing up with hunger can have devastating effects on a child’s health and well-being, which is why they are a primary focus of our overall mission,” explained Awosanya, who noted that these children are often living in “working poor” households struggling to put food on the table. “Often times, parents are faced with making trade-offs between funding things like housing, medicine, utilities, etc., and providing nutritionally adequate food, making our Summer Meals program a crucial resource during an often worrisome time.”
Awosanya said that according to the Map the Meal Gap study initiated by Feeding America, 44 percent of the estimated 57,000 food-insecure children in southern New Jersey likely do not qualify for federal nutrition programs; 13.1 percent of people living in the counties assisted by the Food Bank of South Jersey — Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem — face food insecurity. “This grant from the Investors Foundation will help us bridge the gap for the children in South Jersey, and ensure they can enjoy their summer without having to worry about their next meal or get up each day and face their hunger.”
“The thought of a hungry child is devastating,” said Carol-Anne Peacock, Investors Bank assistant VP and Maple Shade branch manager, who presented the grant to the Food Bank of South Jersey. “Investors is grateful for the opportunity to assist the Food Bank of South Jersey in ensuring the children throughout our region have the nutrition they need to develop, grow and enjoy their world.”
The Food Bank of South Jersey works with 250 soup kitchens, food pantries, rescues, and homeless shelters in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties to provide healthy foods to families in need, year-round. Additionally, the Food Bank has a mobile pantry, the Hope Mobile, which holds 45,000 pounds of food that can be taken to areas that lack access to a viable network of food sources and foods that provide a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
This item submitted by Kathleen Brust, Laura Bishop Communications, for Investors Foundation.