photo courtesy of Food Bank of South Jersey
SIX-FIGURE GRANT FROM PSEG FOUNDATION HELPS FOOD BANK OF SOUTH JERSEY
$150,000 Gift Will Feed Nearly 500,000 People
PENNSAUKEN, NJ – April 20, 2021 – When the pandemic struck, demand for food increased at the Food Bank of South Jersey, an organization dedicated to helping the food insecure.
So, when PSEG and the PSEG Foundation donated $150,000 to the Pennsauken, New Jersey-based organization as part of the Foundation’s COVID-19 support grants, the funds were “sufficient to feed almost a half-million meals,” said Fred Wasiak, president and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, calculating that a single dollar can provide more than three meals.
More importantly, the six-figure grant came when food insecurity was the highest. “Demand for food resources was high before the pandemic even began,” Wasiak said. “COVID-19 raised the need even higher. Now, we will have resources to feed people for months to come.”
Much of the grant was dedicated to the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Hope Mobile – a motorized pantry on wheels that carries food to people throughout the four New Jersey counties of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem. The Hope Mobile provides an immediate solution to those communities that have a great need – but short supply – of nutritious food.
Another portion of the grant has been dedicated toward emergency food boxes for people in need. When the pandemic hit, The Food Bank of South Jersey saw need for food drastically increase 45% over 2019 levels.
“Hunger doesn’t judge,” Wasiak says. “The pandemic caused business closures and high increase in job losses. People who never needed the help of a food bank suddenly found themselves desperately food insecure.”
The $150,000 grant is not the first COVID-19 donation by PSEG and the PSEG Foundation. In the spirit of service, celebration and charity during the public health emergency, PSEG and the PSEG Foundation donated $1.5 million last December to organizations throughout New Jersey and Long Island PSEG service territories. The 2020 year-end contributions provided help to thousands of families and individuals struggling due to the economic and job impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit organizations that received these surprise 2020 year-end contributions address significant needs that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including food insecurity, unemployment, mental and physical health, and poverty. The gifts have also been providing support for ongoing issues such as domestic violence, substance abuse and child neglect.
“It is our privilege to be able to support community organizations that are providing much needed assistance to countless families and communities who are facing enormous hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rick Thigpen, PSEG’s senior vice president for Corporate Citizenship and chairman of the PSEG Foundation. “We have been proud to make these Community Gifts on behalf of our employees across New Jersey and Long Island, and support these organizations that are helping to make life better for people throughout the many diverse communities we serve.”
PSEG and the PSEG Foundation have committed a total of $5 million in foundation and corporate giving initiatives since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to December’s $1.5 million in grants to community organizations, the company and its foundation announced a $2.5 million commitment to pandemic relief organizations in April 2020 and a $1 million Powering Equity and Social Justice Initiative in June 2020.
At the Food Bank of South Jersey, the pandemic was viewed as a “real opportunity to serve our mission,” said Lavinia Awosanya, Chief Development Officer of the Food Bank of South Jersey. “Food insecurity is real – and it is not going away.”
“The most powerful fact is that we are able to get food in the hands of people who really need it,” Wasiak said. “This is the largest level of food insecurity we’ve seen since the Great Depression – and unfortunately it will likely stay at this level for at least another 24 months.”