EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, Southern Branch, wants to try something different to provide holiday meals to families this season.

Instead of individuals picking up extra items at the grocery store to donate during food drives, the food bank is asking businesses to spread the word to their employees to donate cash through the food bank’s website.

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“For every $1 that we receive, we can buy $8 worth of food,” said Renate Taylor, development officer for the food bank. “We can make their dollars go much further.”

With $25, the food bank can feed a family of four with all the fixings and dessert. With $100, the food bank can provide 300 nutritious meals to community members, Taylor said.

With $250, 100 nourishing dinners can be provided to an after-school program. And $500 can pay for 125 holiday meals for a local soup kitchen.

The food bank can help businesses set up a holiday food and fund drive online. And Thanksgiving is just the start — the food bank would like to make holiday meals available for families to cover Christmas, Kwanzaa and 3 Kings Day on Jan. 6.

A food bank holiday meal includes a turkey or roasted chicken, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, peaches, yams, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

The food bank’s Southern Branch, on the Black Horse Pike, will supply 115 agencies in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties with food this holiday season.

The four worst childhood food-insecurity rates in the state are in counties in South Jersey: Cape May, 19.8 percent; Atlantic, 19.3 percent; Salem, 18.5 percent; and Cumberland, 18.2 percent.

Childhood food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“These are our children’s friends and our neighbors,” Taylor said.

The first company to sign on to the food bank’s cash-donation program was Atlantic City Electric, followed by Cape May Brewing, Kensington Furniture and South Jersey Network.

David Sarnoff, a chiropractor and founder of the South Jersey Network, said his organization has donated $2,000.

“You give them $10 in cash, and they can turn it into $80 worth of food,” Sarnoff said.

Sarnoff said his practice will fundraise exclusively for the food bank this season.

“It’s really making an impact. It’s heartfelt,” Sarnoff said about the food bank and its work.

Cape May Brewing, one of the largest craft breweries in the state, has been involved in food drives for at least three years, said Ryan Krill, one of three co-owners along with brother Robert Krill and Chris Henke.

The company started a reward program wherein each customer who brings in a canned good receives a punch on a card. The person who earns the most punches will receive a keg, Ryan Krill said.

Along with the punch-card program, the company will be encouraging customers to donate money to the food bank, Krill said.

“My partner, Chris, he grew up in a family who took advantage of the community bank,” Krill said.

For more information about the food bank, visit cfbnj.org or call 609-383-8843.

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Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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