The Cherry Hill Food and Outreach Council is a group of nine congregations (Trinity Presbyterian, Kingsway, St Michael Lutheran, St. Andrew Methodist, Christ Our Light, St. Mary, Holy Eucharist, Unitarian Universalist Church and Fresh Word Ministry) that joined together in May 2006 to address the issue of hunger and food insecurity in their community. Since many individuals, families and seniors had been struggling to meet their bills, these people often turned to churches in the Cherry Hill area for assistance with food, bills and access to social services.
The Cherry Hill congregations work together, providing volunteers and food to the two-day a week food pantry. Once a month, these pantry volunteers distribute bags of groceries, which include canned goods, fresh produce, bread, meat, eggs and cheese, serving an average of 600 people per month. The pantry staff purchases food from the local food bank and also supplements the supply with grocery store visits. Clients are allowed to receive food once a month to ensure there is enough for all.
A new goal is to expand the food pantry to provide outreach services. Intake information is now required so that, in addition to providing food and immediate support, the Food Bank/Council is able to assist individuals with the resources and skills formation that will help them rebuild their lives.
ShopRite Partners In Caring has partnered with Cherry Hill Food & Outreach for over two years. Earlier this year, Shoprite Partners in Caring donated a generous grant of $5,500, which was used to purchase food from the South Jersey Food Bank at a reduced cost. Due to the economy, donations have been down so the money came at a great time, according to Sally Wright, Program Director. Cherry Hill has three ShopRite grocery stores that are involved in the effort.
Ms. Wright explains, “Our grant from ShopRite Partners in Caring has allowed us to fill 1,100 bags of food for our clients in need. In the past week, we had a mother come in with her four young children. It was her daughter’s birthday. The seven-year old girl was so excited. She would have a special dinner that night from the bags of food that we were able to supply. Our volunteers scrambled to add a cake mix, frosting, special cereal and extra cookies. Her smile warmed our hearts for the entire evening. Thank you ShopRite for giving us the means to lighten the burden of those in need.”
To learn more about Cherry Hill Food and Outreach visithttp://www.cherryhillfoodpantry.org/