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As a nonprofit pioneer, public school teacher, and U.S. Navy veteran, Claudia Wheeler has inspired countless New Jerseyans in her tireless efforts to fight food insecurity across the state. She is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit 501(c)3 SALT Foundation, Inc. SALT Foundation works with a wide range of partners to provide New Jersey families in need with thousands of pounds of healthy food that would otherwise go to waste.
For the past 14 years, Ms. Wheeler has collected and delivered over 330,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, other food products, as well as clothing and supplies, to food pantries, homeless shelters, hospitals, churches, schools, mobile pop-up pantries, womens shelters, other community groups, food drives, and special events. She has driven over 200,000 miles in partnering with supermarkets and retail stores – including multiple Trader Joe’s and Walmart locations as well as Wegmans in Princeton – along with New Jersey farms and other food suppliers. Each week, SALT picks up and distributes an average of 7,600 pounds of healthy food that would otherwise go to waste.
During the peak COVID-19 period, Ms. Wheeler and SALT Foundation distributed over 12,400 bags of healthy food, households goods and clothing to underserved individuals and families at over 100 weekly giveaway events from SALT’s storefront office on Newark Avenue in Jersey City. These giveaways held special significance in a city where over 40,000 tons of food are wasted each year - while one in ten Jersey City residents suffer from food insecurity. SALT has also partnered on mobile food pantry giveaway events at various locations in Jersey City, Hoboken, Union City, Teaneck, Hackensack, Edison, New Brunswick, Somerset, East Brunswick, Trenton, and Howell.
Mrs. Wheeler and SALT Foundation were recognized as the “Hero of the Month” for August 2021 by the global fundraising network GoFundMe and the global social impact company Upworthy. The companies released a feature story and podcast, titled “This Woman Delivered So Much Food to People in Need, Her Car Literally Broke Down.” Mrs. Wheeler has also been recognized as Woman of the Month by both the Business Women Networking Involving Charity & Education, and the Allegheny East Conference. She also is a member of the Stockton University “Food Asset Inventory and Mapping Project” advisory group, which seeks to better understand food waste generation in New Jersey, identify food insecurity hotspots, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food waste through composting and food recovery. SALT Foundation was selected as a 2021 Top-Rated Award winner from GreatNonprofits. SALT and Ms. Wheeler have also been profiled on NBC Live, the Star Ledger, Jersey Journal, NJ.com, FDU Magazine, The Ukrainian Weekly, Visitor Magazine, and Hudson Reporter. A United States Navy veteran of both active duty and military reserves, Ms. Wheeler is also an elementary school teacher in Trenton Public Schools, where she has taught for the past 12 years, with 16 years total teaching experience. Ms. Wheeler earned two Master’s degrees in Administrative Science and Elementary Education, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, all from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
SALT Foundation, Inc.
637 Newark Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07306
About SALT Foundation, Inc. For time immemorial, salt has been humans’ greatest way to preserve food and make it last. The phrase “salt of the earth” symbolizes those working to help their fellow man. SALT Foundation works to do just that by making the modern food system go further in helping those who need help most. Gleaning – or gathering left-behind produce and other food goods – is an increasingly important way to help provide families and individuals with healthy food at no cost. Nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger – yet globally we squander nearly 3 trillion pounds of food each year. Imagine recapturing just a fragment of that wasted food to feed the hungry. SALT Foundation has successfully developed the following process to help feed the hungry in Hudson, Bergen, Mercer, Middlesex, and Ocean Counties:
coordinate with supermarkets, other food suppliers to arrange pickup times and locations
collect thousands of pounds of food that would otherwise go to waste
deliver that food in a timely basis to homeless and women’s shelters, churches, food pantries, food drives, and other groups and individuals who need help the most SALT Foundation also collects and delivers books, clothes, supplies, and other educational goods and services to similar audiences and other children and adults in need
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