Eat Well

Expanding Food Access for South Jersey

Support this Initiative

At Virtua, we are working hard to ensure our neighbors, regardless of what zip code they call home, have access to the fresh, healthy, and affordable foods they deserve.

Ensuring that no child or adult goes hungry is an ongoing struggle in communities across the United States. The city of Camden and certain areas of Burlington and Gloucester counties are categorized as “food deserts” for their low access to healthy food retail outlets. According to Feeding America, an estimated 15% of Camden County residents and 12% of Burlington County residents do not know where their next meal will come from. Moreover, studies show that eating healthy food helps prevent and reduce the severity of many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Virtua’s multifaceted Eat Well initiative aims to address the critical food insecurity issues in our area and focus on nutrition as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.  Powered by philanthropy, the Eat Well Mobile Farmers Market, Mobile Grocery Store, and Food Farmacy have helped to ensure that our patients, and most vulnerable community members, have consistent access to fresh, culturally relevant, affordable foods, and nutrition education since 2017.

Together with our generous donors and community partners, we are creating reliable and affordable sources for nutritious food!

Together, we can build a healthier South Jersey.

  • Mobile Farmers Market

    Virtua’s Mobile Farmers Market was the first Eat Well program to launch, serving as a reliable community resource for fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables since 2017. In addition to offering produce at significantly reduced prices, we incorporate health education and literacy about eating well and its connection to reducing chronic disease.

    Mobile Farmers Market
  • Mobile Grocery Store

    In 2020, we converted a city bus into a beautiful mobile grocery store with an aisle of fully stocked shelves, coolers, and freezers for customers to browse and shop with dignity, just as they would at any grocery store. The 40-foot mobile store operates year-round, makes regular weekly stops to communities with limited access to a grocery store, and offers reduced pricing on all items.

    We are grateful to all the individuals, businesses, and community organizations who have joined us to support this exciting initiative. We are especially thankful to the following Founding Philanthropic Partners who have contributed $100,000 or more to our Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store.

    Founding Partners
    Bank of America
    Domenica Foundation
    Michael and Yvette Jordan
    Kelly Benefits Strategies
    Morrison Healthcare
    NFI and the Brown Family
    Parker Private Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
    Bob & Donna Platzer and Family / Town Square Real Estate
    Marvin Samson Foundation
    The Tepper Foundation
    Turner Construction
    Virtua Health Medical Staff South

    Mobile Grocery Store
  • Food Farmacy

    The Food Farmacy locations in Camden and Mount Holly offer nutrition education, social support services, and free produce and nonperishable food to enrolled patients. Patients with a chronic disease or other health issues, who are also experiencing food insecurity, can be referred into this six-month “food as medicine” program by their physician.

    Food Farmacy
  • NEW! Colleague Markets

    In an effort to support and sustain our workforce, Virtua Health is launching a variety of new colleague wellness and career development opportunities.

    As part of this effort, we will be opening Eat Well Colleague Markets in 7 locations across Virtua Health so that any colleague with a need for support can take home nutritious food and personal care items at no cost. These markets are also a place where colleagues can seek out assistance from our social work team, access job training opportunities, and be referred to other resources to help them and their families thrive.

  • Annual Turkey and Produce Giveaway

    Established in 2016, Virtua’s annual Turkey and Produce Giveaway provides approximately 1,500 families in Burlington and Camden Counties with everything they need to make a hearty and nutritious Thanksgiving meal, including a turkey, fresh produce, and healthy recipes.

    Powered by philanthropy, this program is made possible thanks to the kindness and generosity of many. We are especially grateful to Dr. Eric Sztejman and the Sztejman family for their support and leadership in making this event a success.

     

    Turkey and Produce Giveaway

Impact of Philanthropy

We are grateful to our donors whose kindness and generosity is making a lasting impact.

26839

times Virtua’s Eat Well team supported people in 2021 with the food they need to be healthy.

90%

of Mobile Grocery Store customers in 2021 reported having more access to healthy food.

242

patients received free food and nutrition counseling at a Food Farmacy in 2021.

In the News

Virtua Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary of Eat Well

May 6, 2022 — Virtua Health celebrated the fifth anniversary of its Eat Well food-access program, which launched in the spring of 2017 with the introduction of the health system’s year-round Mobile Farmers Market. The program has since expanded with the addition of its Mobile Grocery Store and two Food Farmacy locations — all fueled by generous donors.

“Over the past five years, this program has become life-changing for thousands of area residents,” says Debra Moran, Virtua’s vice president of community-based services. “People are eating better and feeling better. And their children are learning healthy eating habits, which will bring life-long benefits to them and future generations.”

In the News

Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store Celebrates 1,000th Customer

June 3, 2021 — Since hitting the road in February, Virtua’s “Eat Well” Mobile Grocery Store has taken off! The store-on-wheels recently served its 1,000th customer. Shopper Malissa Plaza reacted with surprise and gratitude when she learned she was the 1,000th customer. Virtua staff members presented her with a flowering plant. Plus, she and all customers that morning received a reusable cloth shopping bag stuffed with a $10 gift voucher, can opener, vegetable peeler, and jar gripper.

“The Virtua bus has been a blessing, since it is difficult for disabled people like me to do fresh shopping,” said Plaza, who is a regular at the store. “This is a wonderful concept. The selections have been fantastic. The prices here are wonderful.”

Read News Release

In the News

Virtua Unveils New Mobile Grocery Store

October 21, 2020 — Virtua Health revealed the latest component of its food access initiatives: the Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store. Virtua introduced the colorful vehicle – created from a donated NJ Transit bus – during a socially distant, outdoor event on its Voorhees hospital campus, with N.J. First Lady Tammy Murphy among the guests.

“Virtua Health has championed food access for several years and is a national leader in reimagining how health systems can reduce food insecurity on the local level,” said Virtua Health President and CEO Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE. “The Mobile Grocery Store means that our neighbors in South Jersey, regardless of what ZIP code they call home or whether they own a car, can have access to the healthy and affordable foods they deserve.” 

Read News Release