A mini diversion

Taking a moment from distributing fresh produce to Glassboro residents at the Samaritan Center
on Wednesday, April 19, are Lynn Bradford, left, Karen Sapio, Gina and Luca DiMarco,
Commissioner Heather Simmons, Jeff Sanders and Danielle Harrell. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN JR./THE SUN

Mobile Food Pantry breaks down, providers adapt and adjust to bring fresh produce to the Samaritan Center Food Pantry

The St. John of God Mobile Food Pantry bus was ready to take its first trip of the year – 11 miles down Delsea Drive to the Samaritan Center Food Pantry – on Wednesday, April 19.

But, it would not start – perhaps a dead battery or defective alternator.

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No bus, no problem. This did hinder the mission of the day.

“We adapted to the situation,” said Karen Sapio, pastoral care coordinator for St. John of God Community Services (SJOGCS) on Route 47 in Westville.

Using the church’s transportation van, they loaded the fresh produce donated by Murphy’s Farm Market of Woolwich Township and made the trip to the Samaritan Center Food Panty on High Street in Glassboro.

“The market donated onions, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, zucchini, apples, oranges and lots of tomatoes,” Sapio said.

“The people started coming about 11 a.m.,” said SJOGCS Chief Development Officer Jeff Sanders, who helped initiate the food pantry bus program last year when an old school bus was converted into a mini supermarket allowing people to select the items they wanted.

Sapio said the bus made three trips last year to the Boys & Girls Club in Paulsboro, noting there was a need to bring nutritious items to struggling families who could not otherwise come to the Food Pantry at the church.

There are plans to take it to sites all over South Jersey where needed by working with community organizations in the local towns.

“This is an opportunity to bring fresh produce to people who may not have access to it,” said Gloucester County Commissioner Heather Simmons, who was lending a helping hand.

Also there were Gina DiMarco and her 2-month-old baby Luca. She is with Joseph House in Camden, which is an emergency shelter.

Giving away delicious free desserts at the end of the line was Danielle Harrell of Crave, a sweet shop in Pitman that donated the treats.

“I just started doing this and it is a wonderful thing, SJOGCS Hospitality Coordinator Lynn
Bradford said. “It helps a lot of people eat nutritiously.”

For information about the SJGCS Mobile Food Pantry or other services, go to sjogcs.org.

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