Burlington County may have turned the corner in the battle against COVID-19, but county officials worry that many families continue to be plagued with food insecurity and a lack of access to affordable nutrition.
Citing the ongoing need, the County will hold a drive-thru food distribution event this Thursday, June 17, from 5 PM to 7 PM in the parking lot of the Burlington County Institute of Technology’s Westampton Campus, located off Woodlane Road.
During the event, Burlington County residents in need of assistance are eligible to receive free groceries and produce on a first come first served basis while supplies last.
The county has held drive-thru food pantry events monthly in partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey since the pandemic began, but this month’s event is the first scheduled for evening hours on a weekday. Officials said they made the change to try to reach families who are unable to attend the events on weekends.
More than 52,000 adults and 17,000 children living in Burlington County are still deemed food insecure because they cannot afford adequate supplies of nutritious food, according to the Food Bank of South Jersey.
“For over a year, our County has partnered with the Food Bank of South Jersey to provide individuals and families in need healthy groceries free of charge,” said Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “We started the program because we saw how the pandemic was impacting many county residents finances, and we’ve heard how this help has made the difference between parents, children or grandparents going hungry or sacrificing other necessities. While the pandemic is now in decline, we know that hunger continues to be an issue for far too many here, which is why we’re continuing these monthly food events.”
In addition to distributing groceries, Hopson announced that the County Health Department will also hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on site in conjunction with the food event. Free shots of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be available to any adult present who has not yet been vaccinated.
“Many of the residents struggling with food insecurity may also be among those who still haven’t been vaccinated, so we’re making vaccine available,” Hopson said. “More than 53% of Burlington County residents 12 or older have now been fully vaccinated and we’re seeing the benefits of the protection on our COVID-19 cases. But we won’t rest until everyone who wants a vaccine receives one.”
Volunteers from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the Burlington County Department of Human Services, the Burlington County Health Department and the Burlington County Medical Reserve Corps will assist at both the food distribution event and vaccination clinic.