EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — More than 1,000 South Jersey families can thank ShopRite and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch for their access to fresh milk this Thanksgiving.

For the first time, ShopRite and the Community FoodBank participated in Feeding America’s The Great American Milk Drive initiative. A delivery of 1,200 gallons of milk, which was the first installment of a total of 6,300 gallons, was made by ShopRite Tuesday to the Community FoodBank here.

“We are able to do 1,200 gallons for the first installment to get the Community FoodBank through Thanksgiving, and the rest of the installments will come through the next few months,” said Amanda Fischer, director of business relations, Village Super Market Inc., one of ShopRite’s owners.

There will be another milk donation from ShopRite to the Community FoodBank sometime before Christmas, said Colette Walsh Kraus, food sourcing coordinator, Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Throughout last month, customers at ShopRite stores in Absecon, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hammonton, Marmora, Rio Grande, Somers Point and Vineland made a donation at checkout so the supermarket could afford to donate the milk to the Community FoodBank.

Milk is one of the most requested but least donated items at food banks, meaning children in need often miss out on the essential nutrients that milk supplies.

“We have the highest child-poverty rate in the state. Cape May County is at 23 percent. Atlantic County is at 21 percent. Cumberland is at 21 percent,” said Kraus, adding the Community FoodBank serves all three counties.

People are generous with canned and dry goods, but milk is harder to donate because it is perishable. It’s been a challenge for Feeding America to meet the demand for milk due to the lack of donations.

The milk will begin to be dispersed Wednesday to the more than 300 partner charities the Community FoodBank serves. The milk has a sell-by date of Nov. 29.

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