Food Bank of South Jersey CEO Fred Wasiak talks food insecurity in South Jersey
What does a meal look like to you? This was the question posed by Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) CEO Fred Wasiak as he spoke to attentive members of the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce during the organization’s November Membership Luncheon in Cherry Hill, NJ.
The question, so simple…drove home to its audience the message that not every individual, family, child or senior living in South Jersey today experiences a meal that is composed regularly of fruits, grains, vegetables, protein or dairy. In fact, for tens of thousands of people living in South Jersey at this moment, hunger continues to be an every day disaster that must be endured.
“The Food Bank of South Jersey provides food to people in need, delivers health and wellness programs and designs sustainable solutions to help people improve their lives,” Wasiak shared with chamber members. “The impact of hunger on health and wellness is significant for any town, county, state or nation. Hunger and health are deeply connected. People who are food insecure are disproportionately impacted by diet-sensitive chronic diseases, such as diabetes and blood pressure, as well as enduring serious compromises to mental health, academic and personal achievement and overall future prosperity.”
Currently, 37 million people face hunger in the United States today — including more than 11 million children and nearly 5.4 million seniors. Hunger knows no boundaries — it touches every community in the United States, including South Jersey. What does a meal look like to you?
According to Wasiak, right now one in eight people are food insecure in South Jersey, roughly 137,000 South Jerseyans of all ages. In South Jersey today, 38,890 children and 20,000 seniors struggle with hunger, with food insecure households touching every county serviced by FBSJ. During 2018, FBSJ delivered 11 million pounds of food, equating to approximately 10 million meals, to South Jersey residents facing the every day disaster of hunger. FBSJ’s impact in Camden County during 2018 includes the organization’s delivery of 5.1 million meals, with 1.7 million meals delivered to Burlington County, 1.3 million meals to Gloucester County and more than 570,000 meals to Salem County – a region FBSJ is focusing on as it increases its efforts to provide relief to South Jerseyans facing rural hunger. With a focus on making each day better, FBSJ serves food-insecure residents in a multitude of ways, including Hope Mobiles, Pop-Up Pantries, Summer Meals, KidzPack Weekend Meal Packs, Twilight Harvest Senior Boxes and a variety of informative health and wellness programs.
“We can be more and better together,” Wasiak shared. “Together, we can feed South Jersey.”
As one of the five largest chambers in the entire Delaware Valley, the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce serves businesses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. With the largest core membership in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey, we serve our members with the following products and services. With hundreds of business members spanning many of the largest firms in the Camden County and neighboring regions, as well as some of the smallest, local businesses, the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce fosters collaborative relationships with Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, and The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia Chamber to provide opportunities for South Jersey businesses build relationships throughout the Delaware Valley.
About the Food Bank of South Jersey
The Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) is the leader in providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey. FBSJ distributes food, provides nutrition education and cooking courses, and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives. In 2018, FBSJ distributed 11 million pounds of food, including 75,000 after school snacks, 200,000 summer meals, 15,000 senior food boxes, as well as serving 95 health and wellness programs to more than 6,000 residents. Providing community impact through local support, FBSJ ensures that local donations stay local. FBSJ is a member of Feeding America, our nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. To learn more, visit www.foodbanksj.org.