Mobile food pantry adds Winslow to South Jersey stops

Posted: August 03, 2014

For some, the financial troubles started with a job layoff. For others, an unexpected illness or injuries in a car accident.

The result was the same.

No paychecks meant less money for food, and that's where the Hope Mobile has come in.

The 18-wheel semitrailer truck - a mobile food pantry for the needy - will visit Winslow Township for the first time from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and return there every month, as it does in communities across Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, and Salem Counties.

The Hope Mobile sees "people who have been in hard-core poverty for a long time and have almost given up hope," as well as "people who could be your neighbor . . . quietly trying to walk through the line and not be noticed," said Pamela Pernot, spokeswoman for the Food Bank of South Jersey.

The Perfecting Church, which has partnered with the Food Bank of South Jersey to bring the rolling pantry to Winslow, has seen an increase in need in the township.

"We definitely get a lot of requests to provide food to those that are low-income families," said Angela Brown, the executive director of community engagement and strategic partnerships for the Perfecting Church.

Volunteers from the church will oversee the Winslow visits. Anyone seeking assistance must bring identification and proof of income eligibility.

"The hard-core poor will have two and three minimum-wage jobs," Pernot said. "You still can't make ends meet if you have two minimum-wage jobs between the parents.

"You can't pay bills," she said. "It's just not possible if you have children, or even if you don't."

In the four counties covered by the Food Bank of South Jersey, there are 173,000 food-insecure people who don't have the access or means to purchase affordable and nutritious food, Pernot said. Among them are 57,000 children.

The food insecurity surfaces in unexpected places. "It's in pockets," Pernot said. "For instance, in Gloucester and Burlington you have pockets of wealth and you have pockets of extreme poverty. . . . In Camden County you have the poorest and most dangerous city in the country."

"Then you have Moorestown, you have wealth. You have pockets of poverty three miles up the road from comfortable higher-income areas."

The food bank started the Hope Mobile more than five years ago to bolster the reach of the 240 food pantries, shelters, and community kitchens already distributing food to those in need. It targeted so-called food deserts, areas where resources are too far away or too expensive.

"The obvious solution is to bring the resource to them," Pernot said.

The Food Bank of South Jersey also provides 1,300 lunches and afternoon snacks daily that are delivered to 23 locations throughout the four counties, an effort to feed children who rely on free school lunch and breakfast programs during the school year.

The food bank receives donations from area farms and local supporters, as well as food surpluses from all over the nation. Donations can be dropped off at the Pennsauken location. Volunteers are welcome.

"It's really about mobilizing people to be the church instead of just going to one," Brown said. "For us, the measurement is, 'How effective are you in making your city a better place?'

"We really want people that are passionate about the communities that they live in to demonstrate that passion by volunteering to enhance the quality of life in places where we live, where we work, where we worship."


For more information on the Hope Mobile and its schedule, visit http://www.foodbanksj.org/ProgramsServices/HopeMobile.


cmindock@phillynews.com

856-779-3237 @clarkmindock

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