Celebrating Thanksgiving by helping others
HAMMONTON - The Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Southern Branch held its annual Turkey Drive with the help of ShopRites throughout Atlantic County on Saturday to ensure that the thousands of people facing food insecurity would enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.
Members of the Hammonton High School National Honor Society volunteered their time to help the food bank collect donations at the Hammonton ShopRite.
“It could be whatever anyone wants to donate; it could be food or money,” said Myra Doughty, the school’s National Honor Society adviser.
While most of the Honor Society members had never participated in such an event before, all of them felt passionate about helping others.
“It’s going to be nice to know people are getting food for Thanksgiving and that no one will go hungry,” said Abby Skelly, 17.
Donations to the annual drive were not limited to only Saturday. According to Doughty, as of 9 a.m. on Saturday, the Hammonton ShopRite had already collected around 500 donated bags worth of food prior to Turkey Drive.
The CFBNJ – Southern Branch covers Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.
“Atlantic and Cape May Counties rank No. 1 and No. 2 in childhood food insecurity in New Jersey and Cumberland County is ranked No. 4,” said Renate Taylor, development officer for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Southern Branch.
According to Taylor, this Thanksgiving season alone, the CFBNJ – Southern Branch has already donated:
• 300 vouchers for turkeys
• 200 vouchers for oven roasters
• 2,300 holiday meal boxes distributed to CFBNJ – Southern Branch partners, such as churches, to hand out to those facing food insecurity.
For those who cannot donate any food or feel they do not have enough money to donate, even a dollar donation can go a long way. In fact, according to the CFBNJ website, a $1 donation can provide three meals to those facing food insecurity.
The CFBNJ also partners with local churches, organizations and businesses to help raise donations. The food bank, which is always looking for new partners, has recently developed a new capacity of online giving for their partners. With this new form of online giving, the CFBNJ – Southern Branch can create a webpage for a partner from which people can then donate directly to the CFBNJ. The process of creating such a webpage is free.
The CFBNJ – Southern Branch has locations throughout Atlantic County, but its main location is in Egg Harbor Township. At that site, located at 6735 Black Horse Pike, those facing food insecurity have the opportunity to choose their own food from the CFBNJ’s warehouse — similar to a grocery store.
“We are a unique food bank,” said Taylor.
Often, those who face food insecurities also face stigma. While many people believe that those with food insecurities do not have a job, nearly half of families who seek help from them CFBNJ have at least one person working. And many of those who come to the food bank are desperate.
“It is the last stop on the train, you have nowhere else to go to feed your kids,” said Taylor.
She is well aware of the difficulties of food insecurity, having once been a struggling single mother herself. Her own struggle with food insecurity has led Taylor to enthusiastically commit to helping others.
“Helping families maintain a healthy diet and putting food on the table for the holiday is an act of restoration,” Taylor said.
For more information on the Community Food Bank of New Jersey or its locations, please visit its website at www.cfbnj.org. If you are interested in partnering with the CFBNJ – Southern Branch, please contact Renate Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (609) 383-8843 ext. 122.