Serving the South Jersey community for over 30 years, The Food Bank of South Jersey recently won the Community Enrichment Award from the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce for its work in Burlington and throughout South Jersey.
Tom Sims, Chief Development Officer of Food Bank of South Jersey, was kind enough to answer some questions to spread the word about food deserts in South Jersey and how you can help.
Founded over 30 years ago serving people in South Jersey, how important is community to your non-profit’s mission?
For us, our mission and business delivery model is all about community. We do not provide food at our main warehouse. Rather we extend out into the community, through our neighbors in churches, civic groups, community centers, schools, and camps. It is those groups that provide food to their neighbors in need. When there is not a pantry locally, we roll up in one of our trucks and work with volunteer leaders in the community to provide food directly. We do not get our work done without the help of our community. And it is only by our power together that we serve our fellow neighbors in need.
For those who aren’t too familiar with the Food Bank of South Jersey, can you tell us a little more about what your non-profit’s mission is and what your non-profit provides to the community?
Our mission is to feed people in need, help them to eat nutritiously, and find creative ways to improve people’s lives. At our core, we supply food, both groceries and meals, to neighbors in need. We do this through our network of nearly 400 pantries, soup kitchens, schools, mobile pantry sites, and summer camps throughout South Jersey. First, we provide food and nutrition education, and we also provide the unique opportunity for leaders in communities, faith-based organizations, and businesses to come together and improve the lives of our neighbors in need.
It seems people think of food poverty/food deserts being a third world problem. What should people know about food deserts right here in South Jersey?
Food deserts exist right within our communities, which means that for many people who struggle with transportation, a grocery store is more than one mile away with no reasonable way to get there. Hunger is a problem that happens here in our towns every day. Some people struggling with food insecurity are on public assistance, but many, many more have two and sometimes three jobs yet still have a difficult time putting food on the family table. This is after they pay for rent, utilities, and other essentials.
What are some different ways people can volunteer at Food Bank of South Jersey?
There are several ways that people can volunteer at the Food Bank of South Jersey. First, you can help us very close to home by becoming a volunteer at one of our mobile pantries. Or you can volunteer in our warehouse, where we need help sorting food donations into specific food groups or packing boxes of food that we distribute to seniors in nursing homes or children at schools. There are several ways to help. Please contact us to find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (856) 662-4884 x160.
Anything we missed? Upcoming events we should know about?
We plan to feed thousands of children this summer with fresh meals made locally by volunteers. We can use your help. With the help of thousands of volunteers each year, we save the cost of up to 13 full time employees. The result: $0.90 cents out every dollar received here goes directly to help people in need. Your volunteer hours help us remain outstanding stewards of the resources we receive here.
To learn more, visit the Food Bank of South Jersey website.