Virtua Distributes 1,500 Free Turkeys Plus Produce to Community

The health system held giveaways in Willingboro and Camden,
where visitors could also see Virtua’s soon-to-launch Mobile Grocery Store 

Thousands of South Jersey residents enjoyed a bountiful Thanksgiving this year, courtesy of Virtua Health.
The not-for-profit health system gave away 1,500 frozen turkeys and bags of fresh produce to community members last week at Virtua Willingboro Hospital and the Virtua Health & Wellness Center - Camden

“For many local residents, Virtua’s annual giveaways provide a delicious and nourishing Thanksgiving meal they could not otherwise afford,” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, president and CEO of Virtua Health. “I’m grateful to all of Virtua’s generous supporters, volunteers, and staff who make these events possible.”

Virtua leaders helped hand out the 12- to 14-pound birds – plus reusable tote bags stuffed with fresh celery, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, and spices for the turkey.

In Willingboro, Virtua held a drive-thru event, while the Camden event was walk-up. Everyone was required to wear a mask and practice social distancing at both sites.  

This year’s events also had a new attraction: visitors got a first look at the brand-new Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store – the latest addition to Virtua’s food-access programs. The 40-foot store-on-wheels will start visiting area communities in December. The vehicle was parked alongside its sister program, Virtua’s Eat Well Mobile Farmers Market.

“Increasing people’s access to healthy, affordable, culturally relevant food year-round is a top priority for Virtua,” said Pullin. “Empowering people to eat well is one of the best ways to help them be well, get well, and stay well – which is our mission.”

Indeed, Virtua’s innovative food-access programs aim to improve health through better nutrition, reduce diet-related chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and fight food insecurity. 

These efforts are even more essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has substantially increased food insecurity in our area. In Camden City, for example, 40% to 50% of households don’t have reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. And an estimated 15% of Camden County residents and 12% of Burlington County residents don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to Feeding America.

“More people than ever don’t have enough food right now, so Virtua will continue to expand our ‘Eat Well’ programs to help as many of our neighbors as possible,” added Pullin. 

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