Food insecurity or the lack of access to enough food to live an active and healthy life has long been a challenge for many families and individuals across the country. According to data from Feeding America, about 34 million people suffer from a lack of access to food – and of those 34 million, 9 million are children, who are lacking access to proper nutrition. The impact of food insecurity runs deep within every state, as every county across the country experiences food insecurity at some level.
This issue was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in unemployment, which caused nearly 49 million people to rely on food banks and community programs for help in putting food on the table in 2022.
While the height of the pandemic has subsided, the spike in food insecurity has unfortunately become another of the pandemic’s long-lasting effects, making the work of community food banks and other organizations that much more imperative.
To increase access to healthy, fulfilling food in our communities, Valley Volunteers joined community partners during Hunger Action Month in September to pack and distribute meals to those in need. Each event made a significant difference for individuals suffering from food insecurity, while also drawing valuable attention to the level of hunger plaguing families and individuals nationwide.
Here’s a look at the impact achieved in just one month of dedicated food distribution events:
An estimated 725,000+ New Jersey residents are food insecure according to data from the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (CFBNJ), including 175,000 children. The CFBNJ is just one of many food banks and nonprofit organizations in the state working to reduce that number.
Valley Volunteers contributed more than 170 volunteer hours with the CFBNJ in September to help food insecure families and seniors across the state. In partnership with CFBNJ team members, Valley Volunteers helped pack 525 senior food boxes, resulting in about 16,400 meals for older New Jersey neighbors in need. Likewise, these teams packed more than 6,600 bags of pasta, which yielded more than 5,500 meals for families.
In addition to providing food, Valley has brought 27 groups of volunteers to the food bank from September 2022 to September 2023, resulting in a total of more than 860 volunteer hours at CFBNJ’s Hillside Distribution Center. These efforts exemplify the longstanding partnership between Valley and the CFBNJ, which began in 2018.
“As a company that not only provides financial support but also encourages its team members to actively volunteer, Valley Bank exemplifies the qualities of a true CFBNJ Impact Partner in action,” said Elizabeth McCarthy, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
Valley is also actively supporting the New Jersey Bankers Association’s 1 Million Meals Campaign, which will benefit food banks and community organizations like the CFBNJ, Fulfill, the Food Bank of South Jersey, NORWESCAP, and Mercer Street Friends to provide a total of one million meals to seniors, individuals, and children across the state. Since the campaign’s launch in 2022, Valley has become the largest corporate donor, providing an estimated 60,000 meals through a $20,000 donation.
To service our New York footprint, Valley Volunteers joined members of the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) to assist with their pantry distribution efforts for residents of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. New York has an estimated food insecure population of more than 2 million, making efforts like NMIC’s pantry distribution that much more impactful.
“NMIC’s collaboration with Valley Bank began in 2020, amid the height of the pandemic, to address the pressing needs of our young adults and the wider community,” said Jimberlyn Batista, Coordinator for Benefits and Advocacy Services at the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation. “Since then, their dedicated volunteers have played a pivotal role in distributing over 300,000 pounds of fresh produce, always delivering their service with warm smiles, sleeves rolled up, and an unwavering commitment to serving our Upper Manhattan and Bronx communities with the utmost dignity and respect. We extend our sincere gratitude to Valley Bank for their steadfast support and unwavering commitment.”
Likewise, our Chicago team joined the Greater Chicago Food Depository to pack meals for folks in need. The day resulted in 355 packed cases of food, which equated to 4,871 pounds that totaled 3,893 meals – or 259 meals per person. This effort will exponentially help residents of Cook County, where one in five households experience food insecurity.
While we are proud to support our community partners with dedicated events during Hunger Action Month, the fight against food insecurity is a year-round effort. Valley is committed to supporting our partners in their work throughout the year to eliminate hunger and ensure that all individuals have access to this basic, human need.
To learn more about food insecurity, the work of our partner organizations, and Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month campaign, please visit the links below.
- The Community FoodBank of New Jersey
- New Jersey Bankers Association 1 Million Meals Campaign
- Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation
- Greater Chicago Food Depository
- Feeding America’s Hunger Action Month