Wakefern Food Corp. on Friday said it will donate $1 million to regional food banks to help meet the increase in demand for food and essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation will be divided among 30 food banks across the nine-state trading area of cooperative members ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace and The Fresh Grocer, which includes New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
“It’s so important for us to support the food banks that are experiencing increased need and demand during this crisis,” said Joe Colalillo, chairman and chief executive officer of Wakefern Food Corp., in a prepared statement. “In these uncertain times our members remain committed to supporting the communities our stores serve and will continue to help in the fight against hunger by working with our food bank partners.”
In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Wakefern also donated ShopRite trailers to help move hospital equipment to pop-up field hospitals in the state, and respiratory protective masks to New York and New Jersey hospitals to provide protection to medical personnel on the front lines.
Simultaneously, the United Health Foundation said it committed $1 million to provide urgent assistance to New Jersey residents experiencing food insecurity as they face unprecedented hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey is part of UnitedHealth Group’s previously announced initial $50 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support those most directly impacted, including health care workers, hard-hit communities, seniors and people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.
“The COVID-19 public health emergency has compounded the many challenges faced by New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, such as those experiencing hunger or food insecurity,” said Charles Wayland, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, New Jersey. “Our partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey will provide critical aid to those who need it most.”
The $1 million grant to the Food Bank of South Jersey will provide support for additional staff to prepare emergency food bags and boxes to deliver in underserved communities, provide two weeks’ worth of food supplies for seniors and deliver them to senior housing facilities, and supply additional resources and support to local food banks in southern New Jersey.
FBSJ distributes food, provides nutrition education and cooking courses, and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on April 13, 2020 at 1:39 p.m. EST to include the United Health Foundations donation.