Camden County Commissioners unveil new center – and $5M investment to fight food insecurity

The Camden County Center for Community Nutrition, a $5 million project that aims to combat food insecurity in Camden County through its meals on wheels program, was unveiled by the County Commissioners Tuesday.

The facility, which was created to expand upon the county’s growing need for home delivered meals to residents, is 7,500 square feet and located in Blackwood. The Center supports meal assembly and distribution services for the home delivery program and houses supporting staff areas, frozen and refrigerated food storage and dry goods storage all under one roof.

The services clearly are needed. The facility currently serves 2,000 clients – or approximately 850 more than a year ago.

Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. was thrilled to make the announcement.

“Food insecurity is an unfortunate obstacle that too many of our residents are struggling with,” he said. “This facility will allow our meal services to run smoother and reach more residents, as we take on more and more clients by the year. With a larger and more high-tech facility, we have a real shot at knocking out food insecurity within our county.”

The building will be named after a tireless nutrition activist, Lawnside Mayor Mary Ann Wardlow, who has been a long-time organizer and advocate for Meals on Wheels. Wardlow was instrumental in creating a congregate site offering nutritional programs to her town, at The Wayne Bryant Community Center, making it a priority to bring nutritional food to her constituents.

“This program is a lifeline to our residents on a regular day, but during COVID Meals on Wheels became a life-or-death service for our seniors and our neighbors with disabilities,” Wardlow said. “I want to thank the county for this honor, and I could not be prouder to have my name on a building serving such a critical service in our community.”

The project was funded by a combination of Community Development Block Grants, American Rescue Plan funds and a grant from Congressman Donald Norcross.

“I’m proud to have secured funding to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry,” Norcross said. “Camden County has done great work to tackle food insecurity. This new and improved nutrition hub facility will expand the reach of the current food program and better serve families and seniors throughout our community. I will continue to fight in Congress for funding to reduce food insecurity in South Jersey and around the nation.”