With more than 35 years in leadership positions, Fred Wasiak brings his skills to the food bank.
Tabernacle resident Fred Wasiak is no stranger to the nonprofit world, spending the past 35 years in leadership roles throughout Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
As recently appointed CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, he is taking the skills he’s gained over the years to a new atmosphere.
Wasiak has provided consulting and development services through Humanics Consulting to various nonprofit organizations, including YMCAs, the state Department of Education, Center-for-Nonprofits and National Afterschool Association conferences.
He previously served as the COO for Somerset Hills YMCA in Basking Ridge and CEO of YMCA Camp Ockanickon in Medford.
When he heard that previous CEO Val Traore retired, he said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have an immediate impact on the community every day.
With 8,000 volunteers, 43 staff members and 200 partnering agencies, the Food Bank of South Jersey serves residents of Burlington, Gloucester, Salem and Camden counties.
“The basic mission is no person should go to bed hungry,” Wasiak said. “Having the daily opportunity to serve side-by-side [with] a passionate and committed group of staff and volunteers is truly a blessing.”
As a lifetime learner who pays attention to the needs in the community, he plans to work with the board of development to create an atmosphere of leadership, to make sure the staff and volunteers have all the tools necessary and to become a welcoming face in the community.
His wife Betsy said it has been a pleasure to watch him grow throughout each nonprofit he has worked with, and is looking forward to him raising awareness of food insecurities in the community.
“Fred has a talent for connecting people and building relationships. His qualifications have provided him with a wide variety of opportunities and challenges,” Betsy said. “Both have led him to a position where he will contribute his talents and experiences to serve more and better.”
Currently, the Food Bank of South Jersey is focusing on two projects, the Kidz Cafe program and the Summer Meals program.
The Kidz Cafe program feeds children in high-need areas meals outside of school hours, but only during the school year. The goal is to work with community partners and after-school programs to offer healthier and more fulfilling meals by providing dinners in addition to the traditional idea of just serving snacks.
The Summer Meals program provides meals to children who lose access to that food when the school year ends. This year, they are going to focus on the teenage population who are dependant on school meals, but have aged out of summer camps and child care that most younger kids receive food through. In 2017, there were 44,288 summer meals delivered to local kids.
Not only does the Food Bank of South Jersey deliver food to those in need, it also offers cooking and nutrition classes, which had 735 participants in 2017.
“You know when you go home, someone went to bed with food in their stomach. The sad thing is some people went to bed without food in their stomach, so we have a lot of work to do,” Wasiak said.
His personal goal is to enhance people’s lives in spirit, mind, body and heart, and through the Food Bank of South Jersey he feels he can do exactly that.
“We want people to be self-sufficient,” Wasiak said. “How cool would it be that food banks aren’t needed anymore? That at some point, we do our work so well that we eradicate food insecurities in our communities.”
For more information on how to get involved, visit foodbanksj.org.