Due in part to a $40,000 grant from the Community Foundation of South Jersey (CFSJ) COVID-19 Response Fund, The Food Bank of South Jersey was able to purchase vital life-sustaining needed food and fortify its food distribution model to service the rise in food insecurity throughout South Jersey. The Food Bank currently serves 210 partner agencies throughout Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem, counties.
When the pandemic began, The Food Bank of South Jersey quickly discovered there was no established protocol to support the rapid rise of the region’s food-insecure population, so leadership had to modify the organization's food management and distribution practices. Community food drives were eliminated due to safety concerns, increasing the necessity to purchase food to supplement with government allocated goods. During 2020, the Food Bank’s community donated food supplies dwindled by more than 300,000 pounds. Coupled with a 200% increase in food requests, operating costs skyrocketed.
In addition to purchasing food, the Food Bank had to transition from a “choice model,” where clients would visit its partner network and choose their own food, to an emergency hunger-relief food distribution model in order to distribute food safely outside of the facility. As part of the transition, the Food Bank used a portion of the grant to hire temporary workers who prepared the individual food boxes. During 2020, more than one million emergency food boxes were distributed, supporting the organization’s service of feeding more than 95,000 people each month.
The South Jersey COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March of 2020. It is currently the only private campaign focused solely on the eight-county Southern New Jersey region. It was established to provide flexible grant dollars to nonprofits helping South Jersey neighbors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The dramatic spike in food insecurity throughout our service area has been one of the more troubling results of the COVID-19 pandemic and something we felt compelled to address,” said CFSJ Executive Director Andy Fraizer. “For as long as I have been a resident of South Jersey, I have respected and admired The Community Food Bank of South Jersey for all of the work they do for the community, especially in this most challenging of all years.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented need for emergency food,” reports Fred C. Wasiak, President and CEO, Food Bank of South Jersey.“The Community Foundation of South Jersey’s generous grant means those who are facing food insecurity will be able to get some relief during these tremendously difficult times. Without their support, many South Jersey residents would not have enough food on the table. Just knowing we are helping these individuals drives us to do more each and every day.”
The needs of local nonprofit organizations remain significant during this ongoing public health and economic crisis. For more information on how individuals or organizations can make a donation, funding priorities, and how to apply for a grant, please visit southjerseyresponsefund.org.