“New Jersey’s restaurants were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the outpouring of interest in Sustain & Serve NJ underscores the community’s desire to help local restaurants and the neighborhoods they serve,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “The positive economic impact of this program for the restaurant industry, combined with the good it will do in the community, makes Sustain & Serve NJ a home run.”
The NJEDA announced Sustain & Serve NJ in December as a $2 million pilot program. However, due to the enormous interest from organizations and restaurants throughout the state, NJEDA anticipates dedicating an additional $12.4 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act monies to fund all eligible applications.
“New Jersey’s restaurants are paramount to our state’s economy and Governor Murphy has made bolstering this industry a focal point of our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The tremendous response to our Sustain & Serve NJ program showcases the eagerness from organizations statewide to support local establishments within their communities.”
The NJEDA is completing reviews of additional applicants and may provide additional awards in the near future.
A full list of participating organizations can be found at the end of this news release.
Reaction to the program from around the state has been overwhelmingly positive.
SoupKitchen411, a non-profit founded in 2015 to raise awareness about the epidemic of hunger, launched its FeedNJ initiative in April 2020 to eradicate hunger and stimulate local economies by purchasing restaurant-prepared meals to be donated to local soup kitchens. To date, the initiative has served more than 35,000 meals to people in 11 counties throughout New Jersey.
“COVID-19 brought about unprecedented challenges to the restaurant industry and at the same time put unmatched strains on local soup kitchens that partner with SoupKitchen411 as they work to keep up with demand,” said Ken DeRoberts, SoupKitchen411 Chairman and Co-Founder. “No man, woman or child should go to bed hungry and we are working with our partners around New Jersey to abolish food insecurity. We are grateful to the NJEDA for this innovative program and are heartened that hundreds of thousands of New Jersey-restaurant-prepared meals will be distributed to people in need as a result of this Sustain and Serve grant.”
Our Community Dinner Table is a food crisis relief organization based in Palisades Park that was established in the wake of COVID-19 to provide well-rounded meals to the community while also supporting local restaurants. The organization has focused on purchasing meals from restaurants that rely on sit-down customers and/or catering events.
“The economic downfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families and local businesses all across the country, and neighborhoods in northern New Jersey are certainly not immune from this devastation,” said Our Community Dinner Table Founder Samuel Chong. “The Sustain & Serve NJ program will allow us to simultaneously broaden our reach while continuing to support restaurants in our area that are reflective of the diversity of our community.”
The AtlantiCare Foundation was founded in 1977 to generate significant charitable support to ensure AtlantiCare’s vision of building healthy communities within southeastern New Jersey. AtlantiCare is based in Atlantic City.
“The concept of Sustain and Serve NJ and its ability for organizations like ours to impact our local community while purchasing meals from local restaurants is brilliant. It aligns perfectly with our mission,” said AtlantiCare Foundation Executive Director Samantha Kiley. “This program is a wonderful way for our organization to give back to local establishments that so generously supported our frontline teams throughout the pandemic. It also addresses the broad economic impact COVID has had on our community.”