How Whitsons Brings a Sense of Family to Partnerships to Grow Community Impact

Posted on January 20, 2023

This year, we have the pleasure of working with a new district that exemplifies the Whitsons mission: Camden City School District in Camden, NJ. From the beginning, it was evident that this proud community was committed to coming together to ensure all students have access to good nutrition while supporting its local economy.


Connecting to the Camden Community

CCSD partnered with Whitsons this past summer to become the school meal provider for approximately 11,500 students. We began providing meals to students through various summer programs before successfully transitioning to full onsite school nutrition services—thanks to the help of our extended family of team members at Camden School Nutrition. They have been the foundation of our partnership, and a critical key to our acceptance into the community.

During the festive “Enrolment Extravaganza” events held at multiple school sites across several days, the Whitsons team further integrated into the community by meeting and interacting with staff, students and their families to introduce them to the food students could expect for the upcoming school year. Part of this community integration also includes a notable partnership in Full Futures.

Full Futures: A Collaboration with the Local Community

Whitsons is thrilled to further solidify our role in the Camden community as a partner with Full Futures, a collaboration launched by the Campbell Soup Company that enlists nearly a dozen local organizations to help improve the school nutrition environment. This group meets monthly to share resources that help to ensure students are well nourished and ready to thrive in and out of the classroom. It helps to create a sense of family by bringing organizations invested in the health and wellness of Camden students together for a common cause.

One of Whitsons’ main goals as a Full Futures partner is to continue providing more locally sourced, farm-to-fork food in the schools they serve. The district has also focused on purchasing from black-owned farms, supporting the mission of feeding a high minority student population with food from minority-owned businesses.

Bringing Local Resources to the Camden Nutrition Program

Since this collaboration began, Camden has seen great improvements in its students’ meal experiences by offering multiple appealing options that provide fuel and nourishment. Their efforts have also helped to bring the community together in different ways, through partnerships such as:

  • The Common Market. By working with the Common Market, a Full Futures partner and nonprofit, regional wholesale food distributor whose mission is to connect communities to good food grown by sustainable family farmers, this goal is being achieved. This partnership has contributed to Full Futures’ support of 15 farmers and producers across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, delivering 35,000 pounds of locally sourced foods to multiple schools weekly.
  • Jersey Fresh Program. Whitsons also encourages the use from fresh produce and farm-to fork education through the Jersey Fresh program. By supporting local farms, the Camden school community demonstrates a commitment to both connecting students to the growers of the food that nourishes them and to serving local, fresh, scratch cooked meals.
  • Whitsons and Wellness In The Schools (WITS).Wellness In The Schools (WITS) is another Full Futures organization that we have partnered with. In October, we collaborated to host “Cook Camp,” a professional development for school nutrition team members that doubled as an interactive cooking class and school nutrition education workshop. Building on the premise of family values, team members were invited to bring their children to the event, who were playfully entertained as their parents trained. Whitsons presented on professional standards and best practices for line presentation and student interaction, while WITS representatives led leadership and team member development that focused on the “why” behind our work. After the success of the event, our organizations continued to collaborate on new locally-based, innovative recipes designed to create more student engagement.

Read more about the Full Futures School Nutrition Partnership Impact in its Year One Report

Read more about the innovative recipes that Whitsons and its Full Futures partners are introducing

An Ongoing Commitment

With amazing Full Futures partners, Whitsons has been able to give students access to healthy foods and bring the Full Futures vision to Camden—but the partnership doesn’t stop there. Through surveys solicited by the Camden Youth Advisory Council and the Food Bank of South Jersey, Whitsons and their Full Futures partners have been able to develop student-centered nutritious and appealing recipes that highlight local fresh fruits and vegetables.

In fact, we have added 29 new recipes into the Whitson's 'Dine IN' menu library, featuring produce items from The Common Market's local procurement program. Some innovative recipes include asparagus fries with parmesan and local honey, fresh pico de gallo, chocolate beet brownies, Mediterranean veggie hummus wraps and zucchini muffins. We look forward to working with the district and its local partners on future recipes and programs that continue to bring family and community together.

The Future of Full Futures

Our goal is to open this door to the other districts that we currently serve through partnerships similar to that of Full Futures. To learn more about how a partnership with Whitsons can positively impact your community, contact us today!