Senator Singleton and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith honored at annual gala benefiting local food access
Virtua Health recently presented Senator Troy Singleton with its annual Humanitarian Award at its black-tie gala held at the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. The celebration of the not-for-profit health system’s philanthropic partners also included the presentation of a first-of-its-kind Voice for Good Award to ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.
Representing New Jersey’s 7th Legislative District, Senator Singleton has been a champion of many important health care issues, including improving access to healthy and affordable food for those in need, reducing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and protecting health care workers from acts of violence. Singleton has also demonstrated a strong commitment to community service and has hosted monthly volunteer events involving hundreds of participants.
“The Humanitarian Award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to improve the health and well-being of families in our community,” said Virtua Health President and CEO Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE. “Senator Singleton has devoted himself to public service and demonstrated a deep commitment to meeting the evolving needs of our diverse communities. He will have a lasting impact across New Jersey for years to come.”
“Receiving Virtua Health’s 2022 Humanitarian Award is one of the greatest honors that has been bestowed upon me,” said Singleton. “Being recognized for my commitment to public health and my service to our communities is truly humbling. I am motivated by the mantra that ‘service is the rent we pay for living on this earth,’ and I work each and every day to ensure that my deeds are reflective of that sentiment. I am truly grateful to Virtua for this amazing recognition.”
The gala’s festivities also included the presentation of a special Voice for Good Award for sports broadcaster and ESPN host Stephen A. Smith. Smith was lauded for his selfless advocacy in encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and other life-saving pandemic precautions by way of his social media platforms and popular television/streaming programs.
Through the support of many generous donors, including presenting sponsor Bob and Donna Platzer of Town Square Real Estate, more than $500,000 in proceeds from the event will go to support the expansion of Virtua’s Eat Well food access programs.
“In 2020, we announced plans to transform a city bus into a grocery store on wheels,” said John J. Parker, Sr., chair of the Virtua Health Foundation Board. “Thanks to the kindness of our philanthropic partners, Virtua’s Eat Well Mobile Grocery Store is on the road four days a week — bringing healthy, affordable food to communities where a grocery store is hard to come by.”
Virtua’s Eat Well food access program has worked to address critical food insecurity issues in South Jersey since 2017. The Eat Well initiative includes the Mobile Grocery Store, a Mobile Farmers Market, and two Food Farmacies for patients with chronic disease who may also have trouble accessing the foods they need to be healthy. Addressing food insecurity has become even more critical since the pandemic. In its first year, the Mobile Grocery Store team served more than 3,000 customers in Camden and Burlington counties. Additionally, in 2021, the Eat Well team collectively provided people with the food they need to live a healthy life more than 26,000 times.
For more information about Virtua Health’s Eat Well programs, visit Virtua.org/EatWell.