The major holidays are upon us, and we’re all scrambling for last-minute gifts and figuring out the menus for our family dinners. Life seems so hectic, yet we expect to feel this way and we know that, in the long run, all of the work we are doing is to show our families that they are loved and that they have a safe place to be during “the most wonderful time of the year.”
What we sometimes fail to realize is that we are so lucky and so fortunate that we have the means to buy basic necessities such as food. Recently I saw a story on our local news about the great people who donated food and lots of turkeys to the local Community FoodBank during Thanksgiving. I wanted to know more, so I went to their site and saw that they collected more than 3,000 turkeys and 24,000 pounds of food. I was so happy to learn this and realized that when our community needs to come together, we do it right and we go big or go home. The truth is, everyone wants to be able to help others in need but sometimes we just don’t know where to go or what to do. So I contacted Margie Barham, executive director of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey-Southern Branch and asked her a few key questions.
What does the FoodBank need the most?
Donations of money and food. For every $1 donated we can purchase $8 to $10 worth of food. The food items we need the most are: peanut butter, canned tuna, baked beans, baby foods and formula, Spaghetti-O’s ravioli, Beef-a-roni, applesauce, mayonnaise, jelly, dry pasta, rice, instant potatoes, spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and even laundry detergent, soap, diapers, shampoos and other personal hygiene products.
If people want to drop off food, is there a specific place or time to do so?
There are drives usually going on all the time, but if they want to drop items here at 6735 Black Horse Pike in EHT, then they can do so Monday through Friday, 8am to 4:30pm, and most Saturdays from 8am to noon. They can also call us to check on times at 383-8843.
Do you work closely with other local charities?
The FoodBank distributes more than 95,000 pounds of groceries each week to over 300 charities throughout Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and parts of Burlington counties.
How does the food get dispersed?
We make up packages, which are distributed based on the number of people in the family.
Here are some other statistics that Barham felt we should know. The first is that last year the FoodBank distributed a record 5.1 million pounds of food. And from January through November of this year they have seen about a 40-percent increase in food distribution over the last year. More people than ever before in the history of our local FoodBank are struggling to put food on the table. She also wanted to note that donors will be happy to learn that Charity Navigator, American’s premier independent charity evaluator, recently awarded the Community FoodBank four stars for the organization’s ability to efficiently manage its donor’s funds. “For every dollar collected, 96.4 cents goes directly to support our programs and feed those in need. So you see, your contribution will indeed go a long way in helping others,” says Barham.
On Barham’s feeling about working at the FoodBank, she says, “I am so blessed to be working for this organization that does so much good for so many people. At this time of unprecedented need in the history of the FoodBank it is a challenging job. But I am inspired by our agency partners, the FoodBank staff and the people who come to us for help. Being able to make a difference is the most exciting thing about this position and meeting people who help us to help others.”
I am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful community that comes together in a time of need. We have done an excellent job helping people who are less fortunate, so let’s keep the momentum going.
Happy Holidays South Jersey!
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.