“I feel like Mr. Softee”
His day starts at 8:00 a.m. Before heading to Salem, Andrew’s first project is to prepare for the 100 or so children he’ll see later that afternoon. After consulting the day’s menu, he loads freshly-made meals and snacks unto his trolley. Meandering through the bustling 60,000-plus square-foot warehouse, Andrew and the meals make it safely to the Bus Stop Café.
By 9:30 a.m. he is ready to make the one-hour journey from Pennsauken down to the county which means “peace”. Steeped in history and tradition, Salem County like many across the nation, enjoy a thriving business industry while struggling with pockets of deep poverty.
The need for the Food Bank of South Jersey’s Summer Meals program was further reinforced when Salem City became a food desert after losing its sole grocery store…. leaving families with less access to healthy and quality food options.
The Summer Meals Program provides food services to some of the area’s most vulnerable children who live in Camden, Gloucester, Salem, and Burlington Counties in South Jersey. For nine months out of the year, food-insecure children from low-income families depend on free and reduced price meals provided in public schools for their daily nourishment. The Summer Meals program fills the gap by providing fresh, nutritious meals on a daily basis to children across South Jersey.
Andrew, a new addition to this year’s Summer Meals team was surprised by the apparent hardship of the Salem community. Affectionately called Mr. Rew by one of the four-year-olds who eats daily meals on the mobile diner, Andrew is touched by the parents’ warmth and gratitude for the support they receive from the Food Bank of South Jersey. “They are grateful for the meals; I feel like Mr. Softee when I pull up. The children wave with enthusiasm as the bus comes to a halt.”
In spite of the scorching summer heat and the long journey to Salem, Andrew says that seeing the children happy after eating a satisfying meal makes it all worthwhile.
About the Grantee
The Food Bank of South Jersey provides food to people in need, delivers health and wellness programs, and designs sustainable solutions to help people improve their lives.