NEWTON, NJ - Fairview Lake YMCA Camps has long played a vital role in providing summer camp and educational experiences for thousands of families each year. When the novel coronavirus hit the area, the Y responded by providing access to a basic need that has rapidly increased during the crisis: the need for food.
Fairview Lake YMCA Camps has distributed approximately 103,335 lbs of food, or about 51.5 tons, since May. That amount equals close to 86,000 meals served to the local community.
“During this unprecedented crisis, we are fortunate to have been able to support our community in a number of ways, including being a resource for residents who are struggling with food insecurity,” said Marc Koch, Executive Director of Fairview Lake YMCA Camps.
When the Fairview Lake Y began food distribution, they served around 70 families a week. That number has quickly grown to an upwards of 200 families a week. Each Tuesday, families in Sussex and Warren counties receive boxes of healthy produce and other items such as dairy and meat in a contactless, “drive-up” format at camp. Each family receives about 25 pounds of food each week, and many families also share the food with neighbors and friends, expanding the Y’s reach well beyond the initial recipients.
With support from the NJ YMCA State Alliance, the Y has partnered with food distributors and suppliers across the state, including Seashore Fruit & Produce Co. and the Community FoodBank of NJ, to get boxes of fruits and vegetables and nonperishable items into the hands of local residents.
Seashore Fruit & Produce of Vineland was awarded a contract from the USDA to participate in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, delivering boxes of fruits and vegetables each week to schools and organizations to distribute locally. Each box of food is intended to serve a family of four for about a week.
“We are grateful to be in this position to do something about food insecurity during this time. We certainly do not do it alone. Our partnership with non-profit organizations are crucial,” Elizabeth Gregor, Marketing Manager for Seashore Fruit & Produce Co., told the Y. ”We appreciate the outstanding job the Y has done to help get these boxes into the hands of those who need it.”
According to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in Hillside, Feeding America projects a 56 percent increase in food insecurity in New Jersey due to COVID-19. This means a total of 1.2 million residents will not have the financial means to access food for a healthy, active lifestyle. The CFBNJ has provided more than 40 million nutritious meals in 2020 with the help of community partners.
"The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is grateful for the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and all of our partners across the state, whose tireless efforts are the driving force behind our response to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. "Together, we form a network of vital support for our neighbors in need, whether they were struggling prior to this crisis or are finding themselves in need for the first time in their lives."
When the coronavirus struck New Jersey, Fairview Lake YMCA Camps and its six sister branches were forced to temporarily close. Despite a significant cut in revenue and loss of staff due to furloughs, Fairview Lake joined the pandemic response alongside other Ys in its association and across the state to provide emergency food boxes as the need quickly grew. To date, the Metro Y Association has distributed more than 20,000 boxes and 350,000 meals across six locations in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Sussex counties, working with at least 20 community partners.
“Without the support of our community, staff, and volunteers, we would not be able to make the impact we’ve made in a short time. We have no intention of stopping as long as our partners are able to provide the food and space is available,” Koch said.
Strength of Community
The Metro YMCAs continue to provide outreach to the community during the COVID-19 crisis through blood drives, food distribution, virtual wellness and learning programs, employee assistance, and more. Visit metroymcas.org to learn more about our initiatives and how you can support the Y’s Strength of Community fundraising goal.
Fairview Lake YMCA Camps has reopened its facilities and programs as allowed by the state. Programs now running include School Year Day Camp, Family Camps and Cabin Rentals, Group Retreats, Outdoor Classes, and more.
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ABOUT THE Y
Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges invests in its diverse communities to promote wellness, safety and quality of life for children, adults and seniors. Its seven branches in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hackensack, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility through an array of programs. Some 35,000 people belong to the Metro Y, which awards more than $2.8 million annually in direct and indirect financial assistance.
With locations in Hillside in Union County and Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County, CFBNJ works with a network of over 1,000 partner agencies to serve 15 of New Jersey's 21 counties, which also include Bergen, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties; The Food Bank of South Jersey is in Pennsauken in Camden County and also serves Burlington, Gloucester, and Salem counties; Mercer Street Friends is in Ewing in Mercer County and Norwescap is located in Phillipsburg in Warren County and also serves Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, and Sussex counties.
ABOUT SEASHORE PRODUCE & CO.
Seashore Fruit and Produce Company is the region’s leading distributor of fresh fruit, produce, and dairy serving the tri-state area. Seashore provides unparalleled quality, commitment to service, and competitive pricing. Seashore services a diverse customer base, which consists of: K-12 schools, colleges and universities, healthcare and senior living facilities, business and industry locations, national chain restaurants, independently-owned restaurants, casinos, country clubs, and theme parks.