Book charity teams with Food Bank of South Jersey to provide reading material for children

Two organizations in South Jersey are partnering up to make sure that kids are fed and keeping up with their reading during the pandemic.
Volunteers loaded more than 6,000 books onto a Food Bank of South Jersey truck on Tuesday.
“If a family lacks the ability to buy good, nutritious food, they are not going to put books on the list,” says BookSmiles founder Larry Abrams.
Abrams, who is also a teacher, says that his organization wanted to find a way to get more books into underserved communities. Partnering with the Food Bank of South Jersey was a perfect fit.
BookSmiles collects, sorts and packages the books, while the Food Bank gives them out during their food drives.
The Food Bank says that 1 in 5 children are food insecure due to the pandemic, with 1 in 4 in some communities.
“We’ve been super busy, even though things have settled down. The need is still there, so nothing really has changed since the start of COVID,’ says Andrew Johnson with the Food Bank of South Jersey.
BookSmiles has given the food bank more than 25,000 books to distribute over the past three months. They say that the need is great now that more students are at home learning.
“Both here and in Philadelphia they’ve been remote for the better part of the year. So when Scholastic comes around, they’re not there and there’s no more book fairs and no more media specialists who can take kids in and guide them. And no more books out at their library, so that’s why there is truly a need,” says Abrams.
BookSmiles has distributed more than 500,000 books since it began in 2017.