In April 2020, when the pandemic had people quarantined and stuck in their homes — some without a job — Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center began holding food giveaways five days a week.
“We knew when the quarantine hit that people needed our help,” said Jeff Truax, Mid-Atlantic’s Vice President of Projects and Media. “We talked to our suppliers and worked it out so we could provide food to the community Monday through Friday.”
Frank Hofacker, Commander of Pennsville VFW since 1989, has been volunteering since the giveaway went to five days a week.
“I’ve been volunteering five days a week for the past two years,” Hofacker said. “It’s fun. I enjoy helping people and it’s also good exercise for me. So, I’m helping those in need and I’m helping myself.”
While the food giveaways have helped thousands of people feed their families, the food provided is also helping to teach a generation the art of cooking.
Richard Green, custodian at Penns Grove High School, picks up boxes of food for Penns Grove’s high school, middle school and Paul W. Carleton school students to prepare.
“They cook everything,” Green said. “The school has a Century 21 after school culinary program, so I take the food from here to the schools and the kids learn culinary arts.”
The students currently use an old home economics room for the program, but Green is leading the charge to have that location remodeled into a life skills center.
“I’m very thankful for the food I can take to the kids,” he said. “They love cooking and I get to eat it!”
Truax said the volunteers are the heart of the giveaways.
“That’s what it’s all about, helping your neighbor,” he said.
Food giveaways are held Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Mid-Atlantic States’ 375 S. Broadway location in Pennsville.
Food giveaway volunteers (left to right): Dylan Goldsborough, Michal Brown, Stephanie Plohmann, Elaine Donelson, Jeff Truax (back), Fred Plohmann, Eleanor Price, Eddie Bronka, Rob Chambers (back), Roxy Law, Ralph Law, Richelle Sweeney, Frank Hofacker and Robert Gaines.