State, county and local officials will host an emergency food distribution event in Riverside Saturday.
BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ — State Sen. Troy Singleton, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy are partnering with the Food Bank of South Jersey to host an emergency food distribution event this weekend, the Seventh District legislators announced on Tuesday.
The event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Riverside Public Works Facility, 300 Monroe Street in Riverside. Burlington County and Riverside Township officials are also co-hosting the event, which is open to all Burlington County residents.
"An unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been food insecurity resulting from the closures of schools and places of employment," Singleton said. "To address this, we are working in partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey to ensure that children and families in Riverside, and throughout Burlington County, have access to nutritious food in the midst of this unprecedented, public health crisis. I want to thank the Food Bank of South Jersey for answering the call during our hour of need, the Burlington County Freeholders for supporting our efforts, and Riverside Township for hosting this event in your community."
It will be a drive-up food distribution that will adhere to social distancing guidelines, enabling for safe, efficient and fast distribution of thousands of pounds of food to hundreds of families within an organized and structured timeframe, officials said.
Burlington County residents planning to attend should be prepared to present proof of New Jersey residency. All distributions will be done direct-to-vehicle, eliminating person-to-person contact points. Residents are required to wear masks — and remain in vehicles. Emergency food boxes, and additional food resources, will be placed into vehicles by Food Bank of South Jersey staff and volunteers.
"As food insecurity continues to surge in Burlington County due to the crushing economic and unemployment impact of COVID-19, the Food Bank of South Jersey continues its mission to provide nutrition, resources and hope to those battling hunger," Food Bank of South Jersey President/CEO Fred C. Wasiak said. "We are proud to stand strong for South Jersey during these days of COVID-19 and, rest assured, our work continues each day to alleviate hunger and provide hope for all suffering due to the upset COVID-19 continues to bring to our community."
"With unemployment on the rise and millions of children out of school, more people are now facing hunger than ever. Many may be facing food insecurity for the first time and no family should have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their bills," Conaway said. "We are proud to partner with the Food Bank of South Jersey in providing nutritious meals and allowing our communities to lead healthy lives."
As unemployment claims continue to create surging food insecurity in Burlington County, and throughout the Garden State, the Food Bank of South Jersey continues to meet a more than 200 percent increased food demand, with more than 40 percent of food distribution attendees currently first-time food bank resource recipients, officials said.
"The very real and ever-present reality of food insecurity was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the other issues that it caused," Murphy said. "I am proud to work with Riverside Township, as well as, the Food Bank of South Jersey and the Burlington County Freeholders to help address residents' need for nutritious food during this unprecedented situation."
"It's so important to come together to help one another during normal times, but it is so much more essential to help our neighbors when crisis situations hit home. Some Burlington County residents are struggling for basic necessities while facing uncertain health and employment situations," Burlington County Freeholder Deputy Director Tom Pullion said. "We are here to help relieve some of that burden by sponsoring various emergency food distribution events throughout our county and to help our residents in any way we can."
Riverside Committeewoman Lorraine Hatcher advocated for the need for hunger-relief efforts in her community.
"Riverside is proud to welcome the Food Bank of South Jersey to our community, in this time of great need," Hatcher said. "We also want to thank our legislators for all their hard work in organizing the event."