Food Bank of South Jersey receives $25,500 donation

Recent gift will help provide over 75,000 meals for local families

MATTHEW SHINKLE/The Sun: Representatives from Dunkin’ of greater Philadelphia present the Food Bank of South Jersey with a $25,500 donation Wednesday, Feb. 24.

With the slogan “America Runs on Dunkin,’” you would expect the company represented by those words to have a local presence that goes beyond simply selling coffee and donuts.

Last week, Dunkin’ displayed its commitment towards fostering strong relationships with local nonprofits in the community, such as the Food Bank of South Jersey, as Dunkin’ of Greater Philadelphia presented the aforementioned food bank with a check for $25,500, continuing a decade-long relationship marked by an annual donation.

According to Dunkin’ officials, the company’s Philadelphia-area franchisees donate $1 to five regional food-bank partners, like as the Food Bank of South Jersey, for every large hot coffee purchased between Thanksgiving and Dec. 9., making the donation possible.

Food bank President and CEO Fred Wasiak said during the check presentation at the nonprofit’s location in Pennsauken that the decade-long partnership with Dunkin’ is long standing and helps provide meals and stability for the charity.

“This means so much to us at the food bank here to have a partner like Dunkin’ Donuts,” said Wasiak. “For them to still stay focused on the needs of the community, especially during this pandemic, means a lot.”

In the past, Wasiak said Dunkin’ volunteers and representatives could volunteer to sort and pack donations for delivery to the food bank’s four counties — Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem — something impossible this year because of COVID restrictions.

Wasiak did note that the nonprofit provides food-insecure individuals and families with three meals for every $1 donation it receives, meaning the recent donation from Dunkin’ will result in more than 75,000 meals for local recipients in the coming weeks.

“This donation comes at a really good time. because even though 2020 is over, this is going to continue for a long time, even if everyone got vaccinated,” Wasiak said. “The ripple effect of what the pandemic has done is substantial … We haven’t slowed down.”

Wasiak also noted that food banks across the country have seen demand increase by approximately 40 percent over the past year due to the pandemic, meaning his organization has helped more individuals and families than ever.

“As of March 12, 2020, we had about 42 million food-insecure individuals across the country,” said Wasiak. “By the end of April, the number of food- insecure individuals had gone up to an estimated 55 million people, and that ripple effect, in the four counties that we serve in South Jersey, has gone up about 40 percent.”

“The community really understood that hunger is real in America and there was a food-insecure pandemic even before COVID hit,” he added. “But the pandemic really brought to the forefront that it could be your neighbors, your family, anyone.”

Food bank officials say they have distributed more than 22.5 million pounds of food — or 18.7 million meals — in South Jersey during 2020, its most active year yet.

Challenges from COVID have caused the nonprofit’s child-feeding program to triple in size, from approximately 300,000 meals in 2019 to over 950,000 over the course of 2020. It has also expanded its partner agency network to serve over 95,000 food-insecure residents each month in the region.

For information on how to receive assistance from the Food Bank of South Jersey or how to donate and help with its mission, go to  https://foodbanksj.org/.